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  • 1
    Publication Date: 2019-07-17
    Description: The Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) spacecraft observed the X-ray pulsar GX 1+4 for a period of 34 hours on July 19/20 1996. The source faded from an intensity of approx. 20 mcrab to a minimum of less than or equal to 0.7 mcrab and then partially recovered towards the end of the observation. This extended minimum lasted approx. 40,000 seconds. Phase folded light curves at a barycentric rotation period of 124.36568 +/- 0.00020 seconds show that near the center of the extended minimum the source stopped pulsing in the traditional sense but retained a weak dip feature at the rotation period. Away from the extended minimum the dips are progressively narrower at higher energies and may be interpreted as obscurations or eclipses of the hot spot by the accretion column. The pulse profile changed from leading-edge bright before the extended minimum to trailing-edge bright after it. Data from the Burst and Transz'ent Source Experiment (BATSE) show that a torque reversal occurred less than 10 days after our observation. Our data indicate that the observed rotation departs from a constant period with a P/P value off approx. -5% per year at a 4.5(sigma) significance. We infer that we may have serendipitously obtained data. with high sensitivity and temporal resolution about the time of an accretion disk spin reversal. We also observed a rapid flare which had some precursor activity close to the center of the extended minimum.
    Keywords: Astronomy
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  • 2
    Publication Date: 2013-08-29
    Description: The Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) spacecraft observed the X-ray GX 1+4 for it period of 34 hours on July 19/20 1996. The source faded front an intensity of approximately 20 mcrab to a minimum of 〈= 0.7 mcrab and then partially recovered towards the end of the observation. This extended minimum lasted approximately 40,000 seconds. Phase folded light curves at a barycentric rotation period of 124.36568 +/- 0.00020 seconds show that near the center of the extended minimum the source stopped pulsing in the traditional sense but retained a weak dip feature at the rotation period. Away from the extended minimum the dips are progressively narrower at higher energies and may be interpreted as obscurations or eclipses of the hot spot by the accretion column. The pulse profile changed from leading-edge bright before the extended minimum to trailing-edge bright after it. Data from the Burst and Transient Source Experiment (BATSE) show that a torque reversal occurred 〈 10 days after our observation. Our data indicate that the observed rotation departs from a constant period with a P/P value of approximately -1.5% per year at a 4.5sigma significance. We infer that we may have serendipitously obtained data, with high sensitivity and temporal resolution about the time of an accretion disk spin reversal. We also observed a rapid flare which had some precursor activity close to the center of the extended minimum.
    Keywords: Space Radiation
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  • 3
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: We report on NuSTAR and Swift observations of a soft state of the neutron star low-mass X-ray binary GS 1826-24, commonly known as the "clocked" burster. The transition to the soft state was recorded in 2014 June through an increase of the 2-20 keV source intensity measured by MAXI, simultaneous with a decrease of the 15-50 keV intensity measured by Swift/BAT. The episode lasted approximately two months, after which the source returned to its usual hard state. We analyze the broadband spectrum measured by Swift/XRT and NuSTAR and estimate the accretion rate during the soft episode to be approximately equal to 13% m(sub Edd), within the range of previous observations. However, the best-fit spectral model, adopting the double Comptonization used previously, exhibits significantly softer components. We detect seven type-I X-ray bursts, all significantly weaker (and with shorter rise and decay times) than observed previously. The burst profiles and recurrence times vary significantly, ruling out the regular bursts that are typical for this source. One burst exhibited photospheric radius expansionand we estimate the source distance as (5.7 +/- 0.2) xi(sub b)(exp -1/2) kpc, where xi(sub b) parameterizes the possible anisotropy of the burst emission. The observed soft state may most likely be interpreted as a change in accretion geometry at about similar bolometric luminosity as in the hard state. The different burst behavior can therefore be attributed to this change in accretion flow geometry, but the fundamental cause and process for this effect remain unclear.
    Keywords: Astrophysics
    Type: GSFC-E-DAA-TN40614 , The Astrophysical Journal (ISSN 2041-8205) (e-ISSN 2041-8213); 818; 2; 135
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  • 4
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: The Large Observatory For x-ray Timing (LOFT) is a mission concept which was proposed to ESA as M3 and M4 candidate in the framework of the Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 program. Thanks to the unprecedented combination of effective area and spectral resolution of its main instrument and the uniquely large field of view of its wide field monitor, LOFT will be able to study the behaviour of matter in extreme conditions such as the strong gravitational field in the innermost regions close to black holes and neutron stars and the supra-nuclear densities in the interiors of neutron stars. The science payload is based on a Large Area Detector (LAD, is greater than 8m2 effective area, 2-30 keV, 240 eV spectral resolution, 1 degree collimated field of view) and a Wide Field Monitor (WFM, 2-50 keV, 4 steradian field of view, 1 arcmin source location accuracy, 300 eV spectral resolution). The WFM is equipped with an on-board system for bright events (e.g., GRB) localization. The trigger time and position of these events are broadcast to the ground within 30 s from discovery. In this paper we present the current technical and programmatic status of the mission.
    Keywords: Astrophysics
    Type: GSFC-E-DAA-TN44111 , SPIE Astronomical Telescopes + Instrumentation; Jun 26, 2016 - Jul 01, 2016; Edinburgh, Scotland; United Kingdom|Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2016: Ultraviolet to Gamma Ray; 9905; 99051R
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  • 5
    Publication Date: 2014-11-06
    Description: Neutron star (NS) masses and radii can be estimated from observations of photospheric radius-expansion X-ray bursts, provided the chemical composition of the photosphere, the spectral colour-correction factors in the observed luminosity range, and the emission area during the bursts are known. By analysing 246 X-ray bursts observed by the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer from 11 low-mass X-ray binaries, we find a dependence between the persistent spectral properties and the time evolution of the blackbody normalization during the bursts. All NS atmosphere models predict that the colour-correction factor decreases in the early cooling phase when the luminosity first drops below the limiting Eddington value, leading to a characteristic pattern of variability in the measured blackbody normalization. However, the model predictions agree with the observations for most bursts occurring in hard, low-luminosity, island spectral states, but rarely during soft, high-luminosity, banana states. The observed behaviour may be attributed to the accretion flow, which influences cooling of the NS preferentially during the soft state bursts. This result implies that only the bursts occurring in the hard, low-luminosity spectral states can be reliably used for NS mass and radius determination.
    Print ISSN: 0035-8711
    Electronic ISSN: 1365-2966
    Topics: Physics
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  • 6
    Publication Date: 2015-03-20
    Description: Type II bursts are thought to arise from instabilities in the accretion flow on to a neutron star in an X-ray binary. Despite having been known for almost 40 years, no model can yet satisfactorily account for all their properties. To shed light on the nature of this phenomenon and provide a reference for future theoretical work, we study the entire sample of Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer data of type II bursts from the Rapid Burster (MXB 1730–335). We find that type II bursts are Eddington-limited in flux, that a larger amount of energy goes in the bursts than in the persistent emission, that type II bursts can be as short as 0.130 s, and that the distribution of recurrence times drops abruptly below 15–18 s. We highlight the complicated feedback between type II bursts and the NS surface thermonuclear explosions known as type I bursts, and between type II bursts and the persistent emission. We review a number of models for type II bursts. While no model can reproduce all the observed burst properties and explain the source uniqueness, models involving a gating role for the magnetic field come closest to matching the properties of our sample. The uniqueness of the source may be explained by a special combination of magnetic field strength, stellar spin period and alignment between the magnetic field and the spin axis.
    Print ISSN: 0035-8711
    Electronic ISSN: 1365-2966
    Topics: Physics
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  • 7
    Publication Date: 2014-07-09
    Description: Spectral measurements of thermonuclear (type I) X-ray bursts from low-mass X-ray binaries have been used to measure neutron star (NS) masses and radii. A number of systematic issues affect such measurements and have raised concerns as to the robustness of the methods. We present analysis of the X-ray emission from bursts observed from 4U 1608–52 at various persistent fluxes. We find a strong dependence of the burst properties on the flux and spectral hardness of the persistent emission before burst. Bursts occurring during the low accretion rate (hard) state exhibit evolution of the blackbody normalization consistent with the theoretical predictions of NS atmosphere models. However, bursts occurring during the high accretion rate (soft) state show roughly constant normalization, which is inconsistent with the NS atmosphere models and therefore these bursts cannot be easily used to determine NS parameters. We analyse the hard-state burst to put the lower limit on the NS radius R in 4U 1608–52 of 12 km (for masses 1.0–2.4 M ). We constrain R to be between 13 and 16 km for masses 1.2–1.6 M . The best agreement with the theoretical NS mass–radius relations is achieved for source distances in the range 3.1–3.7 kpc. We expect that the radius limit will be 10 per cent lower if spectral models including rapid rotation are used instead.
    Print ISSN: 0035-8711
    Electronic ISSN: 1365-2966
    Topics: Physics
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  • 8
    Publication Date: 2019-04-17
    Print ISSN: 0035-8711
    Electronic ISSN: 1365-2966
    Topics: Physics
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  • 9
    Publication Date: 2019-09-21
    Description: We present a new method of matching observations of Type-I (thermonuclear) X-ray bursts with models, comparing the predictions of a semi-analytic ignition model with X-ray observations of the accretion-powered millisecond pulsar SAX J1808.4–3658 in outburst. We used a Bayesian analysis approach to marginalize over the parameters of interest and determine parameters such as fuel composition, distance/anisotropy factors, neutron star mass, and neutron star radius. Our study includes a treatment of the system inclination effects, inferring that the rotation axis of the system is inclined $left(69^{+4}_{-2} ight)^circ$ from the observers line of sight, assuming a flat disc model. This method can be applied to any accreting source that exhibits Type-I X-ray bursts. We find a hydrogen mass fraction of $0.57^{+0.13}_{-0.14}$ and CNO metallicity of $0.013^{+0.006}_{-0.004}$ for the accreted fuel is required by the model to match the observed burst energies, for a distance to the source of $3.3^{+0.3}_{-0.2}, mathrm{kpc}$. We infer a neutron star mass of $1.5^{+0.6}_{-0.3}, mathrm{M}_{odot }$ and radius of $11.8^{+1.3}_{-0.9}, mathrm{km}$ for a surface gravity of $1.9^{+0.7}_{-0.4} imes 10^{14}, mathrm{cm}, mathrm{s}^{-2}$ for SAX J1808.4–3658.
    Print ISSN: 0035-8711
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  • 10
    Publication Date: 2018-06-04
    Print ISSN: 0035-8711
    Electronic ISSN: 1365-2966
    Topics: Physics
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