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  1. Abstract The radioisotope 26 Al is a key observable for nucleosynthesis in the Galaxy and the environment of the early Solar System. To properly interpret the large variety of astronomical and meteoritic data, it is crucial to understand both the nuclear reactions involved in the production of 26 Al in the relevant stellar sites and the physics of such sites. These range from the winds of low- and intermediate-mass asymptotic giant branch stars; to massive and very massive stars, both their Wolf–Rayet winds and their final core-collapse supernovae (CCSN); and the ejecta from novae, the explosions that occur on the surface of a white dwarf accreting material from a stellar companion. Several reactions affect the production of 26 Al in these astrophysical objects, including (but not limited to) 25 Mg( p , γ ) 26 Al, 26 Al( p , γ ) 27 Si, and 26 Al( n , p / α ). Extensive experimental effort has been spent during recent years to improve our understanding of such key reactions. Here we present a summary of the astrophysical motivation for the study of 26 Al, a review of its production in the different stellar sites, and a timely evaluation of the currently available nuclear data. We also provide recommendations for the nuclear input into stellar models and suggest relevant, future experimental work. 
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    ABSTRACT Evolved Wolf–Rayet stars form a key aspect of massive star evolution, and their strong outflows determine their final fates. In this study, we calculate grids of stellar models for a wide range of initial masses at five metallicities (ranging from solar down to just 2 per cent solar). We compare a recent hydrodynamically consistent wind prescription with two earlier frequently used wind recipes in stellar evolution and population synthesis modelling, and we present the ranges of maximum final masses at core He-exhaustion for each wind prescription and metallicity Z. Our model grids reveal qualitative differences in mass-loss behaviour of the wind prescriptions in terms of ‘convergence’. Using the prescription from Nugis & Lamers the maximum stellar black hole is found to converge to a value of 20–30 M⊙, independent of host metallicity; however, when utilizing the new physically motivated prescription from Sander & Vink there is no convergence to a maximum black hole mass value. The final mass is simply larger for larger initial He-star mass, which implies that the upper black hole limit for He-stars below the pair-instability gap is set by prior evolution with mass loss, or the pair instability itself. Quantitatively, we find the critical Z for pair-instability (ZPI) to be as high as 50 per cent Z⊙, corresponding to the host metallicity of the Large Magellanic Cloud. Moreover, while the Nugis & Lamers prescription would not predict any black holes above the approx 130 M⊙ pair-instability limit, with Sander & Vink winds included, we demonstrate a potential channel for very massive helium stars to form such massive black holes at ∼2 per cent Z⊙ or below. 
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  3. We report on a comprehensive analysis of simultaneous X-ray polarimetric and spectral data of the bright atoll source GX 9+9 with the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) and NuSTAR . The source is significantly polarized in the 4–8 keV band, with a degree of 2.2%  ±  0.5% (uncertainty at the 68% confidence level). The NuSTAR broad-band spectrum clearly shows an iron line, and is well described by a model including thermal disc emission, a Comptonized component, and reflection. From a spectro-polarimetric fit, we obtain an upper limit to the polarization degree of the disc of 4% (at the 99% confidence level), while the contribution of Comptonized and reflected radiation cannot be conclusively separated. However, the polarization is consistent with resulting from a combination of Comptonization in a boundary or spreading layer, plus reflection off the disc, which significantly contributes in any realistic scenario. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
  4. ABSTRACT X Persei is a persistent low-luminosity X-ray pulsar of period of ≈ 835 s in a Be binary system. The field strength at the neutron star surface is not known precisely, but indirect signs indicate a magnetic field above 1013 G, which makes the object one of the most magnetized known X-ray pulsars. Here we present the results of observations X Persei performed with the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE). The X-ray polarization signal was found to be strongly dependent on the spin phase of the pulsar. The energy-averaged polarization degree in 3–8 keV band varied from several to ∼20 per cent over the pulse with a phase dependence resembling the pulse profile. The polarization angle shows significant variation and makes two complete revolutions during the pulse period, resulting in nearly nil pulse-phase averaged polarization. Applying the rotating vector model to the IXPE data we obtain the estimates for the rotation axis inclination and its position angle on the sky, as well as for the magnetic obliquity. The derived inclination is close to the orbital inclination, reported earlier for X Persei. The polarimetric data imply a large angle between the rotation and magnetic dipole axes, which is similar to the result reported recently for the X-ray pulsar GRO J1008−57. After eliminating the effect of polarization angle rotation over the pulsar phase using the best-fitting rotating vector model, the strong dependence of the polarization degree with energy was discovered, with its value increasing from 0 at ∼2 keV to 30per cent at 8 keV. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 12, 2024
  5. ABSTRACT We present an X-ray spectropolarimetric analysis of the bright Seyfert galaxy NGC 4151. The source has been observed with the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) for 700 ks, complemented with simultaneous XMM–Newton (50 ks) and NuSTAR (100 ks) pointings. A polarization degree Π = 4.9 ± 1.1 per cent and angle Ψ = 86° ± 7° east of north (68 per cent confidence level) are measured in the 2–8 keV energy range. The spectropolarimetric analysis shows that the polarization could be entirely due to reflection. Given the low reflection flux in the IXPE band, this requires, however, a reflection with a very large (>38 per cent) polarization degree. Assuming more reasonable values, a polarization degree of the hot corona ranging from ∼4 to ∼8 per cent is found. The observed polarization degree excludes a ‘spherical’ lamppost geometry for the corona, suggesting instead a slab-like geometry, possibly a wedge, as determined via Monte Carlo simulations. This is further confirmed by the X-ray polarization angle, which coincides with the direction of the extended radio emission in this source, supposed to match the disc axis. NGC 4151 is the first active galactic nucleus with an X-ray polarization measure for the corona, illustrating the capabilities of X-ray polarimetry and IXPE in unveiling its geometry. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 8, 2024
  6. ABSTRACT We report spectro-polarimetric results of an observational campaign of the bright neutron star low-mass X-ray binary Cyg X-2 simultaneously observed by IXPE, NICER, and INTEGRAL. Consistently with previous results, the broad-band spectrum is characterized by a lower-energy component, attributed to the accretion disc with kTin ≈ 1 keV, plus unsaturated Comptonization in thermal plasma with temperature kTe = 3 keV and optical depth τ ≈ 4, assuming a slab geometry. We measure the polarization degree in the 2–8 keV band P = 1.8 ± 0.3 per cent and polarization angle ϕ = 140° ± 4°, consistent with the previous X-ray polarimetric measurements by OSO-8 as well as with the direction of the radio jet which was earlier observed from the source. While polarization of the disc spectral component is poorly constrained with the IXPE data, the Comptonized emission has a polarization degree P = 4.0 ± 0.7 per cent and a polarization angle aligned with the radio jet. Our results strongly favour a spreading layer at the neutron star surface as the main source of the polarization signal. However, we cannot exclude a significant contribution from reflection off the accretion disc, as indicated by the presence of the iron fluorescence line. 
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  7. ABSTRACT We report on the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) observation of the closest and X-ray brightest Compton-thick active galactic nucleus (AGN), the Circinus galaxy. We find the source to be significantly polarized in the 2–6 keV band. From previous studies, the X-ray spectrum is known to be dominated by reflection components, both neutral (torus) and ionized (ionization cones). Our analysis indicates that the polarization degree is 28 ± 7 per cent (at 68 per cent confidence level) for the neutral reflector, with a polarization angle of 18° ± 5°, roughly perpendicular to the radio jet. The polarization of the ionized reflection is unconstrained. A comparison with Monte Carlo simulations of the polarization expected from the torus shows that the neutral reflector is consistent with being an equatorial torus with a half-opening angle of 45°–55°. This is the first X-ray polarization detection in a Seyfert galaxy, demonstrating the power of X-ray polarimetry in probing the geometry of the circumnuclear regions of AGNs, and confirming the basic predictions of standard Unification Models. 
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  8. Abstract We report on multiwavelength target-of-opportunity observations of the blazar PKS 0735+178, located 2.°2 away from the best-fit position of the IceCube neutrino event IceCube-211208A detected on 2021 December 8. The source was in a high-flux state in the optical, ultraviolet, X-ray, and GeV γ -ray bands around the time of the neutrino event, exhibiting daily variability in the soft X-ray flux. The X-ray data from Swift-XRT and NuSTAR characterize the transition between the low-energy and high-energy components of the broadband spectral energy distribution (SED), and the γ -ray data from Fermi-LAT, VERITAS, and H.E.S.S. require a spectral cutoff near 100 GeV. Both the X-ray and γ -ray measurements provide strong constraints on the leptonic and hadronic models. We analytically explore a synchrotron self-Compton model, an external Compton model, and a lepto-hadronic model. Models that are entirely based on internal photon fields face serious difficulties in matching the observed SED. The existence of an external photon field in the source would instead explain the observed γ -ray spectral cutoff in both the leptonic and lepto-hadronic models and allow a proton jet power that marginally agrees with the Eddington limit in the lepto-hadronic model. We show a numerical lepto-hadronic model with external target photons that reproduces the observed SED and is reasonably consistent with the neutrino event despite requiring a high jet power. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 23, 2024
  9. ABSTRACT We report on the first observation of a radio-quiet active galactic nucleus (AGN) in polarized X-rays: the Seyfert 1.9 galaxy MCG-05-23-16. This source was pointed at with the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) starting on 2022 May 14 for a net observing time of 486 ks, simultaneously with XMM-Newton (58 ks) and NuSTAR (83 ks). A polarization degree Π smaller than 4.7 per cent (at the 99 per cent confidence level) is derived in the 2–8 keV energy range, where emission is dominated by the primary component ascribed to the hot corona. The broad-band spectrum, inferred from a simultaneous fit to the IXPE, NuSTAR, and XMM-Newton data, is well reproduced by a power law with photon index Γ = 1.85 ± 0.01 and a high-energy cutoff EC = 120 ± 15 keV. A comparison with Monte Carlo simulations shows that a lamp-post and a conical geometry of the corona are consistent with the observed upper limit, a slab geometry is allowed only if the inclination angle of the system is less than 50°. 
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  10. ABSTRACT A deep survey of the Large Magellanic Cloud at ∼0.1–100 TeV photon energies with the Cherenkov Telescope Array is planned. We assess the detection prospects based on a model for the emission of the galaxy, comprising the four known TeV emitters, mock populations of sources, and interstellar emission on galactic scales. We also assess the detectability of 30 Doradus and SN 1987A, and the constraints that can be derived on the nature of dark matter. The survey will allow for fine spectral studies of N 157B, N 132D, LMC P3, and 30 Doradus C, and half a dozen other sources should be revealed, mainly pulsar-powered objects. The remnant from SN 1987A could be detected if it produces cosmic-ray nuclei with a flat power-law spectrum at high energies, or with a steeper index 2.3–2.4 pending a flux increase by a factor of >3–4 over ∼2015–2035. Large-scale interstellar emission remains mostly out of reach of the survey if its >10 GeV spectrum has a soft photon index ∼2.7, but degree-scale 0.1–10 TeV pion-decay emission could be detected if the cosmic-ray spectrum hardens above >100 GeV. The 30 Doradus star-forming region is detectable if acceleration efficiency is on the order of 1−10 per cent of the mechanical luminosity and diffusion is suppressed by two orders of magnitude within <100 pc. Finally, the survey could probe the canonical velocity-averaged cross-section for self-annihilation of weakly interacting massive particles for cuspy Navarro–Frenk–White profiles. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 22, 2024