skip to main content

Title: The 2019 super-Eddington outburst of RX J0209.6−7427: detection of pulsations and constraints on the magnetic field strength
ABSTRACT In 2019 November, MAXI detected an X-ray outburst from the known Be X-ray binary system RX J0209.6−7427 located in the outer wing of the Small Magellanic Cloud. We followed the outburst of the system with NICER, which led to the discovery of X-ray pulsations with a period of 9.3 s. We analysed simultaneous X-ray data obtained with NuSTAR and NICER, allowing us to characterize the spectrum and provide an accurate estimate of its bolometric luminosity. During the outburst, the maximum broad-band X-ray luminosity of the system reached (1–2) × 1039 erg s−1, thus exceeding by about one order of magnitude the Eddington limit for a typical 1.4 M⊙ mass neutron star (NS). Monitoring observations with Fermi/GBM and NICER allowed us to study the spin evolution of the NS and compare it with standard accretion torque models. We found that the NS magnetic field should be of the order of 3 × 1012 G. We conclude that RX J0209.6−7427 exhibited one of the brightest outbursts observed from a Be X-ray binary pulsar in the Magellanic Clouds, reaching similar luminosity level to the 2016 outburst of SMC X-3. Despite the super-Eddington luminosity of RX J0209.6−7427, the NS appears to have only a moderate magnetic field strength.
Authors:
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
1801792
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10166299
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume:
494
Issue:
4
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
5350 to 5359
ISSN:
0035-8711
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. ABSTRACT The black hole candidate and X-ray binary MAXI J1535−571 was discovered in 2017 September. During the decay of its discovery outburst, and before returning to quiescence, the source underwent at least four reflaring events, with peak luminosities of ∼1035–36 erg s−1 (d/4.1 kpc)2. To investigate the nature of these flares, we analysed a sample of NICER (Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer) observations taken with almost daily cadence. In this work, we present the detailed spectral and timing analysis of the evolution of the four reflares. The higher sensitivity of NICER at lower energies, in comparison with other X-ray detectors, allowed us to constrain the disc component of the spectrum at ∼0.5 keV. We found that during each reflare the source appears to trace out a q-shaped track in the hardness–intensity diagram similar to those observed in black hole binaries during full outbursts. MAXI J1535−571 transits between the hard state (valleys) and softer states (peaks) during these flares. Moreover, the Comptonized component is undetected at the peak of the first reflare, while the disc component is undetected during the valleys. Assuming the most likely distance of 4.1 kpc, we find that the hard-to-soft transitions take place at the lowest luminosities ever observed in a black holemore »transient, while the soft-to-hard transitions occur at some of the lowest luminosities ever reported for such systems.« less
  2. Abstract Magnetars, isolated neutron stars with magnetic-field strengths typically ≳10 14 G, exhibit distinctive months-long outburst epochs during which strong evolution of soft X-ray pulse profiles, along with nonthermal magnetospheric emission components, is often observed. Using near-daily NICER observations of the magnetar SGR 1830-0645 during the first 37 days of a recent outburst decay, a pulse peak migration in phase is clearly observed, transforming the pulse shape from an initially triple-peaked to a single-peaked profile. Such peak merging has not been seen before for a magnetar. Our high-resolution phase-resolved spectroscopic analysis reveals no significant evolution of temperature despite the complex initial pulse shape, yet the inferred surface hot spots shrink during peak migration and outburst decay. We suggest two possible origins for this evolution. For internal heating of the surface, tectonic motion of the crust may be its underlying cause. The inferred speed of this crustal motion is ≲100 m day −1 , constraining the density of the driving region to ρ ∼ 10 10 g cm −3 , at a depth of ∼200 m. Alternatively, the hot spots could be heated by particle bombardment from a twisted magnetosphere possessing flux tubes or ropes, somewhat resembling solar coronal loops, thatmore »untwist and dissipate on the 30–40 day timescale. The peak migration may then be due to a combination of field-line footpoint motion (necessarily driven by crustal motion) and evolving surface radiation beaming. This novel data set paints a vivid picture of the dynamics associated with magnetar outbursts, yet it also highlights the need for a more generic theoretical picture where magnetosphere and crust are considered in tandem.« less
  3. Abstract We present a broadband radio study of the transient jets ejected from the black hole candidate X-ray binary MAXI J1535–571, which underwent a prolonged outburst beginning on 2017 September 2. We monitored MAXI J1535–571 with the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) at frequencies from 119 to 186 MHz over six epochs from 2017 September 20 to 2017 October 14. The source was quasi-simultaneously observed over the frequency range 0.84–19 GHz by UTMOST (the Upgraded Molonglo Observatory Synthesis Telescope) the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP), the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA), and the Australian Long Baseline Array (LBA). Using the LBA observations from 2017 September 23, we measured the source size to be $34\pm1$ mas. During the brightest radio flare on 2017 September 21, the source was detected down to 119 MHz by the MWA, and the radio spectrum indicates a turnover between 250 and 500 MHz, which is most likely due to synchrotron self-absorption (SSA). By fitting the radio spectrum with a SSA model and using the LBA size measurement, we determined various physical parameters of the jet knot (identified in ATCA data), including the jet opening angle ( $\phi_{\rm op} = 4.5\pm1.2^{\circ}$ ) and the magnetic field strengthmore »( $B_{\rm s} = 104^{+80}_{-78}$ mG). Our fitted magnetic field strength agrees reasonably well with that inferred from the standard equipartition approach, suggesting the jet knot to be close to equipartition. Our study highlights the capabilities of the Australian suite of radio telescopes to jointly probe radio jets in black hole X-ray binaries via simultaneous observations over a broad frequency range, and with differing angular resolutions. This suite allows us to determine the physical properties of X-ray binary jets. Finally, our study emphasises the potential contributions that can be made by the low-frequency part of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA-Low) in the study of black hole X-ray binaries.« less
  4. We report the time-resolved spectral analysis of a bright near-infrared and moderate X-ray flare of Sgr A ⋆ . We obtained light curves in the M , K , and H bands in the mid- and near-infrared and in the 2 − 8 keV and 2 − 70 keV bands in the X-ray. The observed spectral slope in the near-infrared band is νL ν  ∝  ν 0.5 ± 0.2 ; the spectral slope observed in the X-ray band is νL ν  ∝  ν −0.7 ± 0.5 . Using a fast numerical implementation of a synchrotron sphere with a constant radius, magnetic field, and electron density (i.e., a one-zone model), we tested various synchrotron and synchrotron self-Compton scenarios. The observed near-infrared brightness and X-ray faintness, together with the observed spectral slopes, pose challenges for all models explored. We rule out a scenario in which the near-infrared emission is synchrotron emission and the X-ray emission is synchrotron self-Compton. Two realizations of the one-zone model can explain the observed flare and its temporal correlation: one-zone model in which the near-infrared and X-ray luminosity are produced by synchrotron self-Compton and a model in which the luminosity stems from a cooled synchrotron spectrum. Both models can describe the mean spectral energy distribution (SED)more »and temporal evolution similarly well. In order to describe the mean SED, both models require specific values of the maximum Lorentz factor γ max , which differ by roughly two orders of magnitude. The synchrotron self-Compton model suggests that electrons are accelerated to γ max  ∼ 500, while cooled synchrotron model requires acceleration up to γ max  ∼ 5 × 10 4 . The synchrotron self-Compton scenario requires electron densities of 10 10 cm −3 that are much larger than typical ambient densities in the accretion flow. Furthermore, it requires a variation of the particle density that is inconsistent with the average mass-flow rate inferred from polarization measurements and can therefore only be realized in an extraordinary accretion event. In contrast, assuming a source size of 1  R S , the cooled synchrotron scenario can be realized with densities and magnetic fields comparable with the ambient accretion flow. For both models, the temporal evolution is regulated through the maximum acceleration factor γ max , implying that sustained particle acceleration is required to explain at least a part of the temporal evolution of the flare.« less
  5. ABSTRACT During the final stages of a compact object merger, if at least one of the binary components is a magnetized neutron star (NS), then its orbital motion substantially expands the NS’s open magnetic flux – and hence increases its wind luminosity – relative to that of an isolated pulsar. As the binary orbit shrinks due to gravitational radiation, the power and speed of this binary-induced inspiral wind may (depending on pair loading) secularly increase, leading to self-interaction and internal shocks in the outflow beyond the binary orbit. The magnetized forward shock can generate coherent radio emission via the synchrotron maser process, resulting in an observable radio precursor to binary NS merger. We perform 1D relativistic hydrodynamical simulations of shock interaction in the accelerating binary NS wind, assuming that the inspiral wind efficiently converts its Poynting flux into bulk kinetic energy prior to the shock radius. This is combined with the shock maser spectrum from particle-in-cell simulations, to generate synthetic radio light curves. The precursor burst with a fluence of ∼1 Jy·ms at ∼GHz frequencies lasts ∼1–500 ms following the merger for a source at ∼3 Gpc (Bd/1012 G)8/9, where Bd is the dipole field strength of the more strongly magnetized star.more »Given an outflow geometry concentrated along the binary equatorial plane, the signal may be preferentially observable for high-inclination systems, that is, those least likely to produce a detectable gamma-ray burst.« less