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ABSTRACT The central engine in long gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) is thought to be a compact object produced by the core collapse of massive stars, but its exact nature (black hole or millisecond magnetar) is still debatable. Although the central engine of GRB collapsars is hidden to direct observation, its properties may be imprinted on the accompanying electromagnetic signals. We aim to decipher the generic properties of central engines that are consistent with prompt observations of long GRBs detected by the Burst Alert Telescope (BAT) on board the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory. Adopting a generic model for the central engine, in which the engine power and activity time-scale are independent of each other, we perform Monte Carlo simulations of long GRBs produced by jets that successfully breakout from the star. Our simulations consider the dependence of the jet breakout time-scale on the engine luminosity and the effects of the detector’s flux threshold. The two-dimensional (2D) distribution of simulated detectable bursts in the gamma-ray luminosity versus gamma-ray duration plane is consistent with the observed one for a range of parameter values describing the central engine. The intrinsic 2D distribution of simulated collapsar GRBs peaks at lower gamma-ray luminosities and longer durations thanmore »
The 2019 super-Eddington outburst of RX J0209.6−7427: detection of pulsations and constraints on the magnetic field strengthABSTRACT 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.