We observed the nearby galaxy M 51 (NGC 5194) with BeppoSAX. The X-ray properties of the nucleus below 10KeV are almost the same as the ASCA results regarding the hard component and the neutral Fe Kα line, but the intensity is about half of the ASCA 1993 data. Beyond this, in the BeppoSAX PDS data, we detected a bright hard X-ray emission component which dominates above 10 keV. The 10-100 keV flux and luminosity of this component are respectively 2 × 10-11 erg s-1 cm-2 and 2 × 1041 ergs-1. These are about 10 times higher than the extrapolation from the soft X-ray band, and similar to the flux observed with Ginga, which found a bright power law component in 2-20 keV band. Considering other wavelength properties and the X-ray luminosity, together with strong neutral Fe K line, the hard X-ray emission most likely arises from a low luminosity active nucleus, which is obscured with a column density of ∼1024 cm-2. This suggests that hidden low luminosity AGNs may well be present in other nearby galaxies. We interpret the discrepancy between Ginga and other X-ray satellites to be due to a large variability of absorption column density toward the line of sight over Several years, suggesting that the Compton thick absorption material may be present on a spatial scale of a parsec. Apart from the nucleus, several ultra-luminous off-nuclear X-ray sources detected in M 51 exhibit long-term time variability, suggesting the state transition similar to that observed in Galactic black hole candidates.
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