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XMM-Newton observations of IGR J18410-0535: the ingestion of a clump by a supergiant fast X-ray transient

XMM-Newton observations of IGR J18410-0535: the ingestion of a clump by a supergiant fast X-ray transient

Publication date: 29 June 2011

Authors: Bozzo, E., et al.

Journal: Astronomy & Astrophysics
Volume: 531
Year: 2011

Copyright: ESO

Context. IGR J18410-0535 is one of the supergiant fast X-ray transients. This subclass of supergiant X-ray binaries typically under- goes few-hour long outbursts reaching luminosities of 1036-1037 erg/s, the occurrence of which has been ascribed to the combined effect of the intense magnetic field and rotation of the compact object hosted in them and/or the presence of dense structures ("clumps") in the wind of their supergiant companion.
Aims. IGR J18410-0535 was observed for 45 ks by XMM-Newton as part of a program aimed at studying the quiescent emission of supergiant fast X-ray transients and clarifying the origin of their peculiar X-ray variability.
Methods. We carried out an in-depth spectral and timing analysis of the XMM-Newton data.
Results. IGR J18410-0535 underwent a bright X-ray flare that started about 5 ks after the beginning of the observation and lasted for ~15 ks. Thanks to the capabilities of the instruments on-board XMM-Newton, the whole event could be followed in great detail. The results of our analysis provide strong convincing evidence that the flare was due to the accretion of matter from a massive clump onto the compact object hosted in this system.
Conclusions. By assuming that the clump is spherical and is moving at the same velocity as the homogeneous stellar wind, we estimate a mass and radius of Mcl~1.4×1022 g and Rcl~8×1011 cm. These are in qualitative agreement with values expected from theoretical calculations. No evidence for pulsations at ~4.7 s was found (we investigated coherent modulations in the range 3.5 ms-100 s). A reanalysis of the archival ASCA and Swift data of IGR J18410-0535, where such pulsations were previously detected, revealed that they were likely due to a statistical fluctuation and to an instrumental effect, respectively.

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