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  1. ABSTRACT

    We use the Very Long Baseline Array to conduct high precision astrometry of a sample of 33 compact, flat spectrum, variable radio sources in the direction of the Galactic plane (Becker et al. 2010). Although Becker et al. (2010) ruled out a few potential scenarios for the origin of the radio emission, the study could not rule out that these sources were black hole X-ray binaries (BHXBs). Most known BHXBs are first detected by X-ray or optical emission when they go into an outburst, leaving the larger quiescent BHXB population undiscovered. In this paper, we attempt to identify any Galactic sources amongst the Becker et al. (2010) sample by measuring their proper motions as a first step to finding quiescent BHXB candidates. Amongst the 33 targets, we could measure the proper motion of six sources. We find that G32.7193-0.6477 is a Galactic source and are able to constrain the parallax of this source with a 3σ significance. We found three strong Galactic candidates, G32.5898-0.4468, G29.1075-0.1546, and G31.1494-0.1727, based purely on their proper motions, and suggest that G29.1075-0.1546 is also likely Galactic. We detected two resolved targets for multiple epochs (G30.1038+0.3984 and G29.7161-0.3178). We find six targets are only detected in one epochmore »and have an extended structure. We cross-match our VLBA detections with the currently available optical, infrared, and X-ray surveys, and did not find any potential matches. We did not detect 19 targets in any VLBA epochs and suggest that this could be due to limited uv-coverage, drastic radio variability, or faint, extended nature of the sources.

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  2. ABSTRACT

    Strongly magnetized (B ≥ 1012 G) accreting neutron stars (NSs) are prime targets for studying the launching of jets by objects with a solid surface; while classical jet-launching models predict that such NSs cannot launch jets, recent observations and models argue otherwise. Transient Be/X-ray binaries (BeXRBs) are critical laboratories for probing this poorly explored parameter space for jet formation. Here, we present the coordinated monitoring campaigns of three BeXRBs across four outbursts: giant outbursts of SAX 2103.5+4545, 1A 0535+262, and GRO J1008–57, as well as a Type-I outburst of the latter. We obtain radio detections of 1A 0535+262 during ten out of twenty observations, while the other targets remained undetected at typical limits of 20–50 $\mu$Jy. The radio luminosity of 1A 0535+262 positively correlates with its evolving X-ray luminosity, and inhabits a region of the LX–LR plane continuing the correlation observed previously for the BeXRB Swift J0243.6+6124. We measure a BeXRB LX–LR coupling index of β = 0.86 ± 0.06 ($L_R \propto L_X^\beta$), similar to the indices measured in NS and black hole low-mass X-ray binaries. Strikingly, the coupling’s LR normalization is ∼275 and ∼6.2 × 103 times lower than in those two comparison samples, respectively. We conclude that jet emission likely dominates during themore »main peak of giant outbursts, but is only detectable for close-by or super-Eddington systems at current radio sensitivities. We discuss these results in the broader context of X-ray binary radio studies, concluding that our results suggest how supergiant X-ray binaries may host a currently unidentified additional radio emission mechanism.

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  3. ABSTRACT We present a low-frequency (170–200 MHz) search for prompt radio emission associated with the long GRB 210419A using the rapid-response mode of the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), triggering observations with the Voltage Capture System for the first time. The MWA began observing GRB 210419A within 89 s of its detection by Swift, enabling us to capture any dispersion delayed signal emitted by this gamma-ray burst (GRB) for a typical range of redshifts. We conducted a standard single pulse search with a temporal and spectral resolution of $100\, \mu$s and 10 kHz over a broad range of dispersion measures from 1 to $5000\, \text{pc}\, \text{cm}^{-3}$, but none were detected. However, fluence upper limits of 77–224 Jy ms derived over a pulse width of 0.5–10 ms and a redshift of 0.6 < z < 4 are some of the most stringent at low radio frequencies. We compared these fluence limits to the GRB jet–interstellar medium interaction model, placing constraints on the fraction of magnetic energy (ϵB ≲ [0.05–0.1]). We also searched for signals during the X-ray flaring activity of GRB 210419A on minute time-scales in the image domain and found no emission, resulting in an intensity upper limit of $0.57\, \text{Jy}\, \text{beam}^{-1}$, corresponding to a constraint ofmore »ϵB ≲ 10−3. Our non-detection could imply that GRB 210419A was at a high redshift, there was not enough magnetic energy for low-frequency emission, or the radio waves did not escape from the GRB environment.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 21, 2023
  4. Abstract Many short gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) originate from binary neutron star mergers, and there are several theories that predict the production of coherent, prompt radio signals either prior, during, or shortly following the merger, as well as persistent pulsar-like emission from the spin-down of a magnetar remnant. Here we present a low frequency (170–200 MHz) search for coherent radio emission associated with nine short GRBs detected by the Swift and/or Fermi satellites using the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) rapid-response observing mode. The MWA began observing these events within 30–60 s of their high-energy detection, enabling us to capture any dispersion delayed signals emitted by short GRBs for a typical range of redshifts. We conducted transient searches at the GRB positions on timescales of 5 s, 30 s, and 2 min, resulting in the most constraining flux density limits on any associated transient of 0.42, 0.29, and 0.084 Jy, respectively. We also searched for dispersed signals at a temporal and spectral resolution of 0.5 s and 1.28 MHz, but none were detected. However, the fluence limit of 80–100 Jy ms derived for GRB 190627A is the most stringent to date for a short GRB. Assuming the formation of a stable magnetarmore »for this GRB, we compared the fluence and persistent emission limits to short GRB coherent emission models, placing constraints on key parameters including the radio emission efficiency of the nearly merged neutron stars ( $\epsilon_r\lesssim10^{-4}$ ), the fraction of magnetic energy in the GRB jet ( $\epsilon_B\lesssim2\times10^{-4}$ ), and the radio emission efficiency of the magnetar remnant ( $\epsilon_r\lesssim10^{-3}$ ). Comparing the limits derived for our full GRB sample (along with those in the literature) to the same emission models, we demonstrate that our fluence limits only place weak constraints on the prompt emission predicted from the interaction between the relativistic GRB jet and the interstellar medium for a subset of magnetar parameters. However, the 30-min flux density limits were sensitive enough to theoretically detect the persistent radio emission from magnetar remnants up to a redshift of $z\sim0.6$ . Our non-detection of this emission could imply that some GRBs in the sample were not genuinely short or did not result from a binary neutron star merger, the GRBs were at high redshifts, these mergers formed atypical magnetars, the radiation beams of the magnetar remnants were pointing away from Earth, or the majority did not form magnetars but rather collapse directly into black holes.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  5. 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
  6. We report on SRG/eROSITA, ZTF, ASAS-SN, Las Cumbres, NEOWISE-R, and Swift XRT/UVOT observations of the unique ongoing event AT 2019avd, located in the nucleus of a previously inactive galaxy at z = 0.029. eROSITA first observed AT 2019avd on 2020-04-28 during its first all sky survey, when it was detected as an ultra-soft X-ray source ( kT ~ 85 eV) that was ≳90 times brighter in the 0.2−2 keV band than a previous 3 σ upper flux detection limit (with no archival X-ray detection at this position). The ZTF optical light curve in the ~450 days preceding the eROSITA detection is double peaked, and the eROSITA detection coincides with the rise of the second peak. Follow-up optical spectroscopy shows the emergence of a Bowen fluorescence feature and high-ionisation coronal lines ([Fe  X ] 6375 Å, [Fe  XIV ] 5303 Å), along with persistent broad Balmer emission lines ( FWHM ~ 1400 km s −1 ). Whilst the X-ray properties make AT 2019avd a promising tidal disruption event (TDE) candidate, the optical properties are atypical for optically selected TDEs. We discuss potential alternative origins that could explain the observed properties of AT 2019avd, such as a stellar binary TDE candidate, ormore »a TDE involving a super massive black hole binary.« less
  7. Abstract The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) is an open access telescope dedicated to studying the low-frequency (80–300 MHz) southern sky. Since beginning operations in mid-2013, the MWA has opened a new observational window in the southern hemisphere enabling many science areas. The driving science objectives of the original design were to observe 21 cm radiation from the Epoch of Reionisation (EoR), explore the radio time domain, perform Galactic and extragalactic surveys, and monitor solar, heliospheric, and ionospheric phenomena. All together $60+$ programs recorded 20 000 h producing 146 papers to date. In 2016, the telescope underwent a major upgrade resulting in alternating compact and extended configurations. Other upgrades, including digital back-ends and a rapid-response triggering system, have been developed since the original array was commissioned. In this paper, we review the major results from the prior operation of the MWA and then discuss the new science paths enabled by the improved capabilities. We group these science opportunities by the four original science themes but also include ideas for directions outside these categories.
  8. Abstract

    We use very long baseline interferometry to measure the proper motions of three black hole X-ray binaries (BHXBs). Using these results together with data from the literature and Gaia DR2 to collate the best available constraints on proper motion, parallax, distance, and systemic radial velocity of 16 BHXBs, we determined their three-dimensional Galactocentric orbits. We extended this analysis to estimate the probability distribution for the potential kick velocity (PKV) a BHXB system could have received on formation. Constraining the kicks imparted to BHXBs provides insight into the birth mechanism of black holes (BHs). Kicks also have a significant effect on BH–BH merger rates, merger sites, and binary evolution, and can be responsible for spin–orbit misalignment in BH binary systems. 75 per cent of our systems have potential kicks $\gt 70\, \rm {km\,s^{-1}}$. This suggests that strong kicks and hence spin–orbit misalignment might be common among BHXBs, in agreement with the observed quasi-periodic X-ray variability in their power density spectra. We used a Bayesian hierarchical methodology to analyse the PKV distribution of the BHXB population, and suggest that a unimodal Gaussian model with a mean of 107 $\pm \,\,16\, \rm {km\,s^{-1}}$ is a statistically favourable fit. Such relatively high PKVs would alsomore »reduce the number of BHs likely to be retained in globular clusters. We found no significant correlation between the BH mass and PKV, suggesting a lack of correlation between BH mass and the BH birth mechanism. Our python code allows the estimation of the PKV for any system with sufficient observational constraints.

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