744 research outputs found

    The (Double) White Dwarf Binary SDSS 1257+5428

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    SDSS 1257+5428 is a white dwarf in a close orbit with a companion that has been suggested to be a neutron star. If so, it hosts the closest known neutron star, and its existence implies a great abundance of similar systems and a rate of white-dwarf neutron-star mergers similar to that of the type Ia supernova rate. Here, we present high signal-to-noise spectra of SDSS 1257+5428, which confirm an independent finding that the system is in fact composed of two white dwarfs, one relatively cool and with low mass, and the other hotter and more massive. With this, the demographics and merger rate are no longer puzzling (various factors combine to lower the latter by more than two orders of magnitude). We show that the spectra are fit well with a combination of two hydrogen model atmospheres, as long as the lines of the higher-gravity component are broadened significantly relative to what is expected from just pressure broadening. Interpreting this additional broadening as due to rotation, the inferred spin period is short, about 1 minute. Similarly rapid rotation is only seen in accreting white dwarfs that are magnetic; empirically, it appears that in non-magnetized white dwarfs, accreted angular momentum is lost by nova explosions before it can be transferred to the white dwarf. This suggests that the massive white dwarf in SDSS 1257+5428 is magnetic as well, with B~10^5 G. Alternatively, the broadening seen in the spectral lines could be due to a stronger magnetic field, of ~10^6 G. The two models could be distinguished by further observations.Comment: 9 pages, 3 figures, submitted to Ap

    On the masses of neutron stars

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    We analyze the currently available observations of X-ray binaries in a consistent way, to re-determine the masses of the neutron stars in these systems. In particular, our attention is focussed on a realistic and consistent assessment of observational uncertainties and sources of systematic error. Confidence limits for these new mass estimates are generally less optimistic than previously assumed. The available observations, including data on six radio pulsars, do not firmly constrain the equation of state of neutron star matter. In particular, a firm upper mass limit cannot yet be established. An improvement of the accuracy of optical data holds the key to further progress.Comment: 5 pages of compressed, uuencoded postscript (text+figure). Accepted for publication in A&A. In case of problems, contact [email protected]

    The IR counterpart of the black-hole candidate 4U 1630-47

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    We present K band photometry of the region including the radio error box of the soft X-ray transient 4U 1630-47 during its 1998 outburst. We detect a variable source at K=16.1 mag located inside the radio error circle which we identify as the counterpart to the X-ray source. We discuss the properties of the source, and conclude that it is most likely a black-hole X-ray binary similar to 4U 1543-47, GRO J1655-40 or SAX J1819.3-2525, containing a relatively early-type secondary.Comment: 7 pages, 3 figures, A&A, in pres

    The infrared counterpart to the magnetar 1RXS J170849.0-400910

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    We have analyzed both archival and new infrared imaging observations of the field of the Anomalous X-ray Pulsar 1RXS J170849.0-400910, in search of the infrared counterpart. This field has been previously investigated, and one of the sources consistent with the position of the AXP suggested as the counterpart. We, however, find that this object is more likely a background star, while another object within the positional error circle has non-stellar colors and shows evidence for variability. These two pieces of evidence, along with a consistency argument for the X-ray-to-infrared flux ratio, point to the second source being the more likely infrared counterpart to the AXP.Comment: 19 pages AASTEX, 4 figure. Accepted for publication in ApJ. Full resolution figures at: http://www.astro.utoronto.ca/~durant/1708.ps.g
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