538 research outputs found

    The link between short Gamma-ray bursts and Gravitational Waves: perspectives for the THESEUS mission

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    The knowledge of the class of short Gamma-Ray Bursts (GRBs), characterised by a duration of the gamma-ray emission 2\leq 2 s, experienced an impressive boost in the last decade. In particular, the discovery of short GRB afterglows in 2005 with Swift and HETE-II provided the first insight into their energy scale, environments and host galaxies. The lack of detection of associated supernovae proved that they are not related to the death of massive stars. The increasing evidence for compact object binary progenitors makes short GRBs one of the most promising sources of gravitational waves for the forthcoming Advanced LIGO/Virgo science runs. To this end, the spectacular detection of the first electromagnetic counterpart of the gravitational wave event GW\,170817 originated by the coalescence of a double neutron star (NS) system, represents a first hystorical milestone. The (weak) short GRB\,170817A associated to this GW event provided the long-sought evidence that at least a fraction of short GRBs are originated by NS-NS merging and suggested the intriguing possibility that relativistic jets can be launched in the process of a NS-NS merger. The THESEUS mission, thanks to the diversity of intstrumentation, fast pointing and flexible schedule will represent a key facility in the multi-messenger astronomy era.Comment: To be published in the Proceedings of the THESEUS Workshop 2017 (http://www.isdc.unige.ch/theseus/workshop2017.html), Journal of the Italian Astronomical Society (Mem.SAIt), Editors L. Amati, E. Bozzo, M. Della Valle, D. Gotz, P. O'Brien. Details on the THESEUS mission concept can be found in the white paper Amati et al. 2017 (arXiv:171004638) and Stratta et al. 2017 (arXiv:1712.08153

    Optical and infrared polarimetry of the transient LMXB Cen X-4 in quiescence

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    We present the first optical and infrared polarimetric study of the low mass transient X-ray binary Cen X-4 during its quiescent phase. This work is aimed to search for an intrinsic linear polarisation component in the system emitted radiation that might be due, e.g., to synchrotron emission from a compact jet, or to Thomson scattering with free electrons in an accretion disc. Multiband (BVRI) optical polarimetric observations were obtained during two nights in 2008 at the ESO La Silla 3.6 m telescope (EFOSC2) in polarimetric mode. These observations cover about the 30% of the 15.1 hours orbital period. J-band observations were obtained in 2007 with the NICS (TNG) instrument at La Palma, for a totality of 1 hour observation. We obtained 3-sigma upper limits to the polarisation degree in all the optical bands, with the most constraining one being in the I-band (P<0.5%). No phase-correlated variability has been noticed in all the filters. The J-band observations provided a 6% upper limit on the polarisation level. The constraining upper limits to the polarisation in the optical allowed us to evaluate the contribution of the possible emission of a relativistic particles jet to the total system radiation to be less then the 10%. This is in agreement with the observation of a spectral energy distribution typical of a single black body of a K-spectral type main sequence star irradiated from the compact object. Due to the low S/N ratio it was not possible to investigate the possible dependency of the polarisation degree from the wavelength, that could be suggestive of polarisation induced by Thomson scattering of radiation with free electrons in the outer part of the accretion disc. Observations with higher S/N ratio are required to examine in depth this hypothesis, searching for significant phase-correlated variability.Comment: 7 pages, 9 figures, accepted for publication in section 7. Stellar structure and evolution of Astronomy and Astrophysic

    GRB 140206A: the most distant polarized Gamma-Ray Burst

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    The nature of the prompt gamma-ray emission of Gamma-Ray Bursts (GRBs) is still far from being completely elucidated. The measure of linear polarization is a powerful tool that can be used to put further constraints on the content and magnetization of the GRB relativistic outflows, as well as on the radiation processes at work. To date only a handful of polarization measurements are available for the prompt emission of GRBs. Here we present the analysis of the prompt emission of GRB 140206A, obtained with INTEGRAL/IBIS, Swift/BAT, and Fermi/GBM. Using INTEGRAL/IBIS as a Compton polarimeter we were able to constrain the linear polarization level of the second peak of this GRB as being larger than 28% at 90% c.l. We also present the GRB afterglow optical spectroscopy obtained at the Telescopio Nazionale Galileo (TNG), which allowed us the measure the distance of this GRB, z=2.739. This distance value together with the polarization measure obtained with IBIS, allowed us to derive the deepest and most reliable limit to date (xi <1x10-16) on the possibility of Lorentz Invariance Violation, measured through the vacuum birefringence effect on a cosmological source.Comment: 9 pages, 5 figures, 3 tables, accepted for publication in MNRAS. arXiv admin note: text overlap with arXiv:1303.418

    Multiple tidal disruption flares in the active galaxy IC 3599

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    Tidal disruption events occur when a star passes too close to a massive black hole and it is totally ripped apart by tidal forces. It may also happen that the star is not close enough to the black hole to be totally disrupted and a less dramatic event might happen. If the stellar orbit is bound and highly eccentric, just like some stars in the centre of our own Galaxy, repeated flares should occur. When the star approaches the black hole tidal radius at periastron, matter might be stripped resulting in lower intensity outbursts recurring once every orbital period. We report on Swift observations of a recent bright flare from the galaxy IC 3599 hosting a middle-weight black hole, where a possible tidal disruption event was observed in the early 1990s. By light curve modelling and spectral fitting we can consistently account for the events as the non-disruptive tidal stripping of a star into a highly eccentric orbit. The recurrence time is 9.5 yr. IC 3599 is also known to host a low-luminosity active galactic nucleus. Tidal stripping from this star over several orbital passages might be able to spoon-feed also this activity.Comment: Accepted for publication to Astronomy & Astrophysic

    The long-term evolution of the X-ray pulsar XTE J1814-338: a receding jet contribution to the quiescent optical emission?

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    We present a study of the quiescent optical counterpart of the Accreting Millisecond X-ray Pulsar XTE J1814-338, carrying out multiband (BVR) orbital phase-resolved photometry using the ESO VLT/FORS2. The optical light curves are consistent with a sinusoidal variability modulated with the orbital period, showing evidence for a strongly irradiated companion star, in agreement with previous findings. The observed colours cannot be accounted for by the companion star alone, suggesting the presence of an accretion disc during quiescence. The system is fainter in all analysed bands compared to previous observations. The R band light curve displays a possible phase offset with respect to the B and V band. Through a combined fit of the multi-band light curves we derive constraints on the companion star and disc fluxes, on the system distance and on the companion star mass. The irradiation luminosity required to account for the observed day-side temperature of the companion star is consistent with the spin-down luminosity of a millisecond radio pulsar. The flux decrease and spectral evolution of the quiescent optical emission observed comparing our data with previous observations, collected over 5 years, cannot be well explained with the contribution of an irradiated companion star and an accretion disc alone. The progressive flux decrease as the system gets bluer could be due to a continuum component evolving towards a lower, bluer spectrum. While most of the continuum component is likely due to the disc, we do not expect it to become bluer in quiescence. Hence we hypothesize that an additional component, such as synchrotron emission from a jet was contributing significantly in the earlier data obtained during quiescence and then progressively fading or moving its break frequency toward longer wavelengths.Comment: 7 pages, 8 figures, accepted for publication in Section 7. Stellar structure and evolution of Astronomy and Astrophysic

    The X-ray afterglow of GRB 081109A: clue to the wind bubble structure

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    We present the prompt BAT and afterglow XRT data of Swift-discovered GRB081109A up to ~ 5\times 10^5 sec after the trigger, and the early ground-based optical follow-ups. The temporal and spectral indices of the X-ray afterglow emission change remarkably. We interpret this as the GRB jet first traversing the freely expanding supersonic stellar wind of the progenitor with density varying as ρr2\rho \propto r^{-2}. Then after approximately 300 sec the jet traverses into a region of apparent constant density similar to that expected in the stalled-wind region of a stellar wind bubble or the interstellar medium (ISM). The optical afterglow data are generally consistent with such a scenario. Our best numerical model has a wind density parameter {A0.02A_{*} \sim 0.02, a density of the stalled wind n0.12cm3n\sim 0.12 {\rm cm}^{-3}, and a transition radius 4.5×1017 \sim 4.5 \times 10^{17} cm}. Such a transition radius is smaller than that predicted by numerical simulations of the stellar wind bubbles and may be due to a rapidly evolving wind of the progenitor close to the time of its core-collapse.Comment: 7 pages, 5 figures, 2 tables, MNRAS accepted for publicatio

    Different twins in the millisecond pulsar recycling scenario: optical polarimetry of PSR J1023+0038 and XSS J12270-4859

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    We present the first optical polarimetric study of the two transitional pulsars PSR J1023+0038 and XSS J12270-4859. This work is focused on the search for intrinsical linear polarisation (LP) in the optical emission from the two systems. We carried out multiband optical and NIR photo-polarimetry of the two systems using the ESO NTT at La Silla (Chile), equipped with the EFOSC2 and the SOFI instruments. XSS J12270-4859 was observed during its radio-pulsar state; we did not detect LP in all bands, with 3 sigma upper limits of, e.g., 1.4% in the R-band. We built the NIR-optical averaged spectral energy distribution (SED) of the system, that could be well described by an irradiated black body with radius R=0.33±0.03RR_{*} = 0.33\pm0.03\,R_{\odot} and albedo η=0.32±0.05\eta=0.32\pm0.05, without the need of further components (thus excluding the visible presence of an extended accretion disc and/or of relativistic jets). The case was different for PSR J1023+0038, that was in its accretion phase during our campaign. We measured a LP of 1.09±0.27%1.09\pm0.27\% and 0.90±0.17%0.90\pm 0.17\% in the V and R bands, respectively. The phase-resolved polarimetric curve of the source in the R-band reveals a hint of a sinusoidal modulation at the source 4.75 hr orbital period, peaked at the same orbital phase as the light curve. The measured LP of PSR J1023+0038 could in principle be interpreted as scattering with free electrons (that can be found in the accretion disc of the system or even in the hot corona that surrounds the disc itself) or to synchrotron emission from a relativistic particles jet or outflow. However, the NIR-optical SED of the system built starting from our dataset did not suggest the presence of a jet. We conclude that the optical LP observed for PSR J1023+0038 is possibly due to Thomson scattering with electrons in the disc, as also suggested from the possible modulation of the R-band LP at the system orbital period.Comment: 10 pages, 8 figures, 4 tables. Accepted for publication in Sec. 7. Stellar structure and evolution of Astronomy and Astrophysic
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