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Six years of BeppoSAX Wide Field Cameras observations

Six years of BeppoSAX Wide Field Cameras observations

Publication date: 02 June 2003

Authors: Cornelisse, R. et al.

Journal: Astronomy & Astrophysics
Volume: 405
Page: 1033-1042
Year: 2003

Copyright: ESO

We present an overview of BeppoSAX Wide Field Cameras observations of the nine most frequent type I X-ray bursters in the Galactic center region. Six years of observations (from 1996 to 2002) have amounted to 7 Ms of Galactic center observations and the detection of 1823 bursts. The 3 most frequent bursters are GX354-0 (423 bursts), KS 1731-260 (339) and GS 1826-24 (260). These numbers reflect an unique dataset. We show that all sources have the same global burst behavior as a function of luminosity. At the lowest luminosities (LX < 2 < 1037 erg s1) bursts occur quasi-periodically and the burst rate increases linearly with accretion rate (clear in e.g. GS 1826-24 and KS 1731-260). At Lpers = 2 < 1037 erg s1 the burst rate drops by a factor of five. This corresponds to the transition from, on average, a hydrogen-rich to a pure helium environment in which the flashes originate that are responsible for the bursts. At higher luminosities the bursts recur irregularly; no bursts are observed at the highest luminosities. Our central finding is that most of the trends in bursting behavior are driven by the onset of stable hydrogen burning in the neutron star atmosphere. Furthermore, we notice three new observational fact which are difficult to explain with current burst theory: the presence of short pure-helium bursts at the lowest accretion regimes, the bimodal distribution of peak burst rates, and an accretion rate that is ten times higher than predicted at which the onset of stable hydrogen burning occurs. Finally, we note that our investigation is the first to signal quasi-periodic burst recurrence in KS 1731-260, and a clear proportionality between the frequency of the quasi-periodicity and the persistent flux in GS 1826-24 and KS 1731-260.

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