248 research outputs found

    The Very Massive Star Content of the Nuclear Star Clusters in NGC 5253

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    The blue compact dwarf galaxy NGC 5253 hosts a very young starburst containing twin nuclear star clusters, separated by a projected distance of 5 pc. One cluster (#5) coincides with the peak of the H-alpha emission and the other (#11) with a massive ultracompact H II region. A recent analysis of these clusters shows that they have a photometric age of 1+/-1 Myr, in apparent contradiction with the age of 3-5 Myr inferred from the presence of Wolf-Rayet features in the cluster #5 spectrum. We examine Hubble Space Telescope ultraviolet and Very Large Telescope optical spectroscopy of #5 and show that the stellar features arise from very massive stars (VMS), with masses greater than 100 Msun, at an age of 1-2 Myr. We further show that the very high ionizing flux from the nuclear clusters can only be explained if VMS are present. We investigate the origin of the observed nitrogen enrichment in the circum-cluster ionized gas and find that the excess N can be produced by massive rotating stars within the first 1 Myr. We find similarities between the NGC 5253 cluster spectrum and those of metal poor, high redshift galaxies. We discuss the presence of VMS in young, star-forming galaxies at high redshift; these should be detected in rest frame UV spectra to be obtained with the James Webb Space Telescope. We emphasize that population synthesis models with upper mass cut-offs greater than 100 Msun are crucial for future studies of young massive star clusters at all redshifts.Comment: 11 pages, 7 figures, accepted for publication in Astrophysical Journa

    Spectral analysis of SXP59.0 during its 2017 outburst and properties of the soft excess in X-ray binary pulsars

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    We report the results provided by the XMM-Newton observation of the X-ray binary pulsar SXP59.0 during its most recent outburst in April 2017. The source was detected at fXf_{\rm X}(0.2-12 keV) = 8×10−11\times 10^{-11} erg cm−2^{-2} s−1^{-1}, one of its highest flux levels reported to date. The measured pulse period was PspinP_{\rm spin} = 58.949(1) s, very similar to the periods measured in most of the previous observations. The pulsed emission was clearly detected over the whole energy range between 0.2 and 12 keV, but the pulse profile is energy dependent and the pulsed fraction increases as the energy increases. Although the time-averaged EPIC spectrum is dominated by a power-law component (with photon index Γ=0.76±0.01\Gamma = 0.76 \pm 0.01), the data show an evident soft excess, which can be described with the sum of a black-body and a hot thermal plasma component (with temperatures kTBB=171−14+11kT_{\rm BB} = 171^{+11}_{-14} eV and kTAPEC=1.09−0.09+0.16kT_{\rm APEC} = 1.09^{+0.16}_{-0.09} keV, respectively). Moreover, the EPIC and RGS spectra show narrow emission lines due to N, O, Ne, Mg, and Fe. The phase-resolved spectral analysis of the EPIC data shows that the flux of the black-body component varies with the pulse phase, while the plasma component is almost constant. We show that the black-body component can be attributed to the reprocessing of the primary emission by the optically thick material at the inner edge of the accretion disc, while the hot plasma component is due to a diffuse gas far from the accretion region and the narrow emission lines of the RGS spectrum are most probably due to photoionized matter around the accreting source.Comment: 11 pages, 9 figures, 5 tables. Accepted for publication by Astronomy and Astrophysic

    Spectral analysis of IGR J01572-7259 during its 2016 outburst

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    We report on the results of the XMM−NewtonXMM-Newton observation of IGR J01572-7259 during its most recent outburst in 2016 May, the first since 2008. The source reached a flux f∼10−10f \sim 10^{-10} erg cm−2^{-2} s−1^{-1}, which allowed us to perform a detailed analysis of its timing and spectral properties. We obtained a pulse period PspinP_{\rm spin} = 11.58208(2) s. The pulse profile is double peaked and strongly energy dependent, as the second peak is prominent only at low energies and the pulsed fraction increases with energy. The main spectral component is a power-law model, but at low energies we also detected a soft thermal component, which can be described with either a blackbody or a hot plasma model. Both the EPIC and RGS spectra show several emission lines, which can be identified with the transition lines of ionized N, O, Ne, and Fe and cannot be described with a thermal emission model. The phase-resolved spectral analysis showed that the flux of both the soft excess and the emission lines vary with the pulse phase: the soft excess disappears in the first pulse and becomes significant only in the second, where also the Fe line is stronger. This variability is difficult to explain with emission from a hot plasma, while the reprocessing of the primary X-ray emission at the inner edge of the accretion disk provides a realiable scenario. On the other hand, the narrow emission lines can be due to the presence of photoionized matter around the accreting source.Comment: 10 pages, 7 figures, 5 tables. Accepted for publication by Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Societ

    Spectral analysis of SMC X-2 during its 2015 outburst

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    We report on the results of Swift and XMM-Newton observations of SMC X-2 during its last outburst in 2015 October, the first one since 2000. The source reached a very high luminosity (L∼1038L \sim 10^{38} erg s−1^{-1}), which allowed us to perform a detailed analysis of its timing and spectral properties. We obtained a pulse period PspinP_{\rm spin} = 2.372267(5) s and a characterization of the pulse profile also at low energies. The main spectral component is a hard (Γ≃0\Gamma \simeq 0) power-law model with an exponential cut-off, but at low energies we detected also a soft (with kT ≃\simeq 0.15 keV) thermal component. Several emission lines can be observed at various energies. The identification of these features with the transition lines of highly ionized N, O, Ne, Si, and Fe suggests the presence of photoionized matter around the accreting source.Comment: 5 pages, 3 figures, 2 tables. Accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Letter

    Inverse Compton Emission from Galactic Supernova Remnants: Effect of the Interstellar Radiation Field

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    The evidence for particle acceleration in supernova shells comes from electrons whose synchrotron emission is observed in radio and X-rays. Recent observations by the HESS instrument reveal that supernova remnants also emit TeV gamma-rays; long awaited experimental evidence that supernova remnants can accelerate cosmic rays up to the ``knee'' energies. Still, uncertainty exists whether these gamma-rays are produced by electrons via inverse Compton scattering or by protons via neutral pion decay. The multi-wavelength spectra of supernova remnants can be fitted with both mechanisms, although a preference is often given to neutral pion decay due to the spectral shape at very high energies. A recent study of the interstellar radiation field indicates that its energy density, especially in the inner Galaxy, is higher than previously thought. In this paper we evaluate the effect of the interstellar radiation field on the inverse Compton emission of electrons accelerated in a supernova remnant located at different distances from the Galactic Centre. We show that contribution of optical and infra-red photons to the inverse Compton emission may exceed the contribution of cosmic microwave background and in some cases broaden the resulted gamma-ray spectrum. Additionally, we show that if a supernova remnant is located close to the Galactic Centre its gamma-ray spectrum will exhibit a ``universal'' cutoff at very high energies due to the Klein-Nishina effect and not due to the cut-off of the electron spectrum. As an example, we apply our calculations to the supernova remnants RX J1713.7-3946 and G0.9+0.1 recently observed by HESS.Comment: 4 pages, 4 figures. Uses emulateapj.cls. Accepted by ApJ

    Probing large-scale wind structures in Vela X-1 using off-states with INTEGRAL

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    Vela X-1 is the prototype of the class of wind-fed accreting pulsars in high mass X-ray binaries hosting a supergiant donor. We have analyzed in a systematic way ten years of INTEGRAL data of Vela X-1 (22-50 keV) and we found that when outside the X-ray eclipse, the source undergoes several luminosity drops where the hard X-rays luminosity goes below 3x10^35 erg/s, becoming undetected by INTEGRAL. These drops in the X-ray flux are usually referred to as "off-states" in the literature. We have investigated the distribution of these off-states along the Vela X-1 ~8.9 d orbit, finding that their orbital occurrence displays an asymmetric distribution, with a higher probability to observe an off-state near the pre-eclipse than during the post-eclipse. This asymmetry can be explained by scattering of hard X-rays in a region of ionized wind, able to reduce the source hard X-ray brightness preferentially near eclipse ingress. We associate this ionized large-scale wind structure with the photoionization wake produced by the interaction of the supergiant wind with the X-ray emission from the neutron star. We emphasize that this observational result could be obtained thanks to the accumulation of a decade of INTEGRAL data, with observations covering the whole orbit several times, allowing us to detect an asymmetric pattern in the orbital distribution of off-states in Vela X-1.Comment: Accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (5 pages, 3 figures). A few typos fixed to match the published versio

    A search for the presence of magnetic fields in the two Supergiant Fast X-ray Transients IGR J08408-4503 and IGR J11215-5952

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    A significant fraction of high-mass X-ray binaries are supergiant fast X-ray transients (SFXTs). The prime model for the physics governing their X-ray behaviour suggests that the winds of donor OB supergiants are magnetized. To investigate if magnetic fields are indeed present in the optical counterparts of such systems, we acquired low-resolution spectropolarimetric observations of the two optically brightest SFXTs, IGR J08408-4503 and IGR J11215-5952 with the ESO FORS2 instrument during two different observing runs. No field detection at a significance level of 3sigma was achieved for IGR J08408-4503. For IGR J11215-5952, we obtain 3.2sigma and 3.8sigma detections (_hydr = -978+-308G and _hydr = 416+-110G) on two different nights in 2016. These results indicate that the model involving the interaction of a magnetized stellar wind with the neutron star magnetosphere can indeed be considered to characterize the behaviour of SFXTs. We detected long-term spectral variability in IGR J11215-5952, while for IGR J08408-4503 we find an indication of the presence of short-term variability on a time scale of minutes.Comment: 5 pages, 1 table, 7 figures, accepted for publication in MNRA
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