XID: Cross-association of rosat/bright source catalog X-ray sources with USNO A-2 optical point sources

Robert E. Rutledge, Robert J. Brunner, Thomas A. Prince, Carol Lonsdale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We quantitatively cross-associate the 18,811 ROSAT Bright Source Catalog (RASS/BSC) X-ray sources with optical sources in the USNO A-2 catalog, calculating the probability of unique association (Pid) between each candidate within 75″ of the X-ray source position, on the basis of optical magnitude and proximity. We present catalogs of RASS/BSC sources for which Pid > 98%, Pid > 90%, and Pid > 50%, which contain 2705, 5492, and 11,301 unique USNO A-2 optical counterparts respectively down to the stated level of significance. Together with identifications of objects not cataloged in USNO A-2 due to their high surface brightness (M31, M32, ...) and optical pairs, we produced a total of 11,803 associations to a probability of Pid > 50%. We include in this catalog a list of objects in the SIMBAD data-base within 10″ of the USNO A-2 position, as an aid to identification and source classification. This is the first RASS/BSC counterpart catalog which provides a probability of association between each X-ray source and counterpart, quantifying the certainty of each individual association. The catalog is more useful than previous catalogs which either rely on plausibility arguments for association or do not aid in selecting a counterpart between multiple off-band sources in the field. Sources of high probability of association can be separated out, to produce high-quality lists of classes (Seyfert 1/2s, QSOs, RS CVns) desired for targeted study, or for discovering new examples of known classes (or new classes altogether) through the spectroscopic classification of securely identified but unclassified USNO A-2 counterparts. Low Pid associations can be used for statistical studies and follow-on investigation - for example, performing follow-up spectroscopy of the many low-mass stars to search for signatures of coronal emission, or to investigate the relationship between X-ray emission and classes of sources not previously well-studied for their X-ray emissions (such as pulsating variable stars). We find that a fraction ∼65.8% of RASS/BSC sources have an identifiable optical counterpart, down to the magnitude limit of the USNO A-2 catalog which could be identified by their spatial proximity and high optical brightness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-353
Number of pages19
JournalAstrophysical Journal, Supplement Series
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Catalogs
  • X-rays: general

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'XID: Cross-association of rosat/bright source catalog X-ray sources with USNO A-2 optical point sources'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this