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BeppoSAX-WFC monitoring of the Galactic Center region

BeppoSAX-WFC monitoring of the Galactic Center region

Publication date: 02 May 2004

Authors: in 't Zand, J., et al.

Journal: Nucl.Phys.Proc.Suppl
Volume: 132
Page: 486-495
Year: 2004

Copyright: © 2004 Elsevier B.V.

We review the results obtained with the Galactic center campaigns of the BeppoSAX Wide Field X-ray Cameras (WFCs). This pertains to the study of luminous low-mass X-ray binaries (LMXBs). When pointed at the Galactic center, the WFC field of view contains more than half of the Galactic LMXB population. The results exemplify the excellent WFC capability to detect brief X-ray transients. Firstly, the WFCs expanded the known population of Galactic thermonuclear X-ray bursters by 50%. At least half of all LMXBs are now established to burst and, thus, to contain a neutron star as compact accretor rather than a black hole candidate. We provide a complete list of all 76 currently known bursters, including the new case 1RXS J170854.4-321857. Secondly, the WFCs have uncovered a population of weak transients with peak luminosities up to ~10^37 erg/s and durations from days to weeks. One is the first accretion-powered millisecond pulsar SAX J1808.4-3658. Thirdly, the WFCs contributed considerably towards establishing that nearly all (12 out of 13) luminous low-mass X-ray binaries in Galactic globular clusters contain neutron stars rather than black holes. Thus, the neutron star to black hole ratio in clusters differs from that in the Galactic disk at a marginal confidence level of 97%.

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