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  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 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.