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  1. Abstract We present a spectral analysis of NuSTAR and NICER observations of the luminous, persistently accreting neutron star (NS) low-mass X-ray binary Cygnus X-2. The data were divided into different branches that the source traces out on the Z-track of the X-ray color–color diagram; namely, the horizontal branch, the normal branch, and the vertex between the two. The X-ray continuum spectrum was modeled in two different ways that produced comparable quality fits. The spectra showed clear evidence of a reflection component in the form of a broadened Fe K line, as well as a lower-energy emission feature near 1 keV likely due to an ionized plasma located far from the innermost accretion disk. We account for the reflection spectrum with two independent models ( relxillns and rdblur*rfxconv ). The inferred inclination is in agreement with earlier estimates from optical observations of ellipsoidal lightcurve modeling ( relxillns : i = 67° ± 4°; rdblur*rfxconv : i = 60° ± 10°). The inner disk radius remains close to the NS ( R in ≤ 1.15 R ISCO ) regardless of the source position along the Z-track or how the 1 keV feature is modeled. Given the optically determined NS mass of 1.71more »± 0.21 M ⊙ , this corresponds to a conservative upper limit of R in ≤ 19.5 km for M = 1.92 M ⊙ or R in ≤ 15.3 km for M = 1.5 M ⊙ . We compare these radius constraints to those obtained from NS gravitational wave merger events and recent NICER pulsar lightcurve modeling measurements.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2023
  2. 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