ESA Science & Technology - Publication Archive
[Remainder of abstract truncated due to character limitations]
The neutron star (NS) low-mass X-ray binary (LMXB) the Rapid Burster (RB; MXB 1730-335) uniquely shows both Type I and Type II X-ray bursts. The origin of the latter is ill-understood but has been linked to magnetospheric gating of the accretion flow. We present a spectral analysis of simultaneous Swift, NuSTAR and XMM-Newton observations of the RB during its 2015 outburst. Although a broad Fe K line has been observed before, the high quality of our observations allows us to model this line using relativistic reflection models for the first time. We find that the disc is strongly truncated at 41.8+6.7-5.3 gravitational radii (~87 km), which supports magnetospheric Type II burst models and strongly disfavours models involving instabilities at the innermost stable circular orbit. Assuming that the RB magnetic field indeed truncates the disc, we find B = (6.2 ± 1.5) × 108 G, larger than typically inferred for NS LMXBs. In addition, we find a low inclination (i=29°±2°). Finally, we comment on the origin of the Comptonized and thermal components in the RB spectrum.
Ultraluminous X-ray sources are extragalactic, off-nucleus, point sources in galaxies, and have X-ray luminosities in excess of 3 × 1039 ergs per second. They are thought to be powered by accretion onto a compact object. Possible explanations include accretion onto neutron stars with strong magnetic fields, onto stellar-mass black holes (of up to 20 solar masses) at or in excess of the classical Eddington limit, or onto intermediate-mass black holes (103–105 solar masses). The lack of sufficient energy resolution in previous analyses has prevented an unambiguous identification of any emission or absorption lines in the X-ray band, thereby precluding a detailed analysis of the accretion flow. Here we report the presence of X-ray emission lines arising from highly ionized iron, oxygen and neon with a cumulative significance in excess of five standard deviations, together with blueshifted (about 0.2 times light velocity) absorption lines of similar significance, in the high-resolution X-ray spectra of the ultraluminous X-ray sources NGC 1313 X-1 and NGC 5408 X-1. The blueshifted absorption lines must occur in a fast-outflowing gas, whereas the emission lines originate in slow-moving gas around the source. We conclude that the compact object in each source is surrounded by powerful winds with an outflow velocity of about 0.2 times that of light, as predicted by models of accreting supermassive black holes and hyper-accreting stellar-mass black holes.
During a search for coherent signals in the X-ray archival data of XMM-Newton, we discovered a modulation at 1.2 s in 3XMM J004301.4+413017 (3X J0043), a source lying in the direction of an external arm of M 31. This short period indicates a neutron star (NS). Between 2000 and 2013, the position of 3X J0043 was imaged by public XMM–Newton observations 35 times. The analysis of these data allowed us to detect an orbital modulation at 1.27 d and study the long-term properties of the source. The emission of the pulsar was rather hard (most spectra are described by a power law with Γ < 1) and, assuming the distance to M 31, the 0.3–10 keV luminosity was variable, from ~3 × 1037 to 2 × 1038 erg s-1. The analysis of optical data shows that, while 3X J0043 is likely associated to a globular cluster in M 31, a counterpart with V ≳ 22 outside the cluster cannot be excluded. Considering our findings, there are two main viable scenarios for 3X J0043: a peculiar low-mass X-ray binary, similar to 4U 1822−37 or 4U 1626−67, or an intermediate-mass X-ray binary resembling Her X−1. Regardless of the exact nature of the system, 3X J0043 is the first accreting NS in M 31 in which the spin period has been detected.