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SMC X-3: The closest ultraluminous X-ray source powered by a neutron star with non-dipole magnetic field
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2017 (English)In: Astronomy and Astrophysics, ISSN 0004-6361, E-ISSN 1432-0746, Vol. 605, article id A39Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Aims. The magnetic field of accreting neutron stars determines their overall behavior including the maximum possible luminosity. Some models require an above-average magnetic field strength (≥ 1013 G) in order to explain super-Eddington mass accretion rate in the recently discovered class of pulsating ultraluminous X-ray sources (ULX). The peak luminosity of SMC X-3 during its major outburst in 2016-2017 reached ~2.5 × 1039 erg s-1 comparable to that in ULXs thus making this source the nearest ULX-pulsar. Determination of the magnetic field of SMC X-3 is the main goal of this paper. Methods. SMC X-3 belongs to the class of transient X-ray pulsars with Be optical companions, and exhibited a giant outburst in July 2016-March 2017. The source has been observed over the entire outburst with the Swift/XRT and Fermi/GBM telescopes, as well as the NuSTAR observatory. Collected data allowed us to estimate the magnetic field strength of the neutron star in SMC X-3 using several independent methods. Results. Spin evolution of the source during and between the outbursts, and the luminosity of the transition to the so-called propeller regime in the range of (0.3-7) × 1035 erg s-1 imply a relatively weak dipole field of (1-5) × 1012 G. On the other hand, there is also evidence for a much stronger field in the immediate vicinity of the neutron star surface. In particular, transition from super- to sub-critical accretion regime associated with the cease of the accretion column and very high peak luminosity favor a field that is an order of magnitude stronger. This discrepancy makes SMC X-3 a good candidate for possessing significant non-dipolar components of the field, and an intermediate source between classical X-ray pulsars and accreting magnetars which may constitute an appreciable fraction of ULX population.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
EDP Sciences , 2017. Vol. 605, article id A39
Keywords [en]
Accretion, accretion disks, Magnetic fields, X-rays: binaries, X-rays: individuals: SMC X-3, Electron sources, Luminance, Magnetism, Neutrons, Pulsars, X ray apparatus, Accretion, accretion disks, Accretion rate, Dipole fields, Magnetic field strengths, Spin evolution, Ultraluminous x-ray sources, X-rays: individual, Stars
National Category
Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-218827DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201730553Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85028944615OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-218827DiVA, id: diva2:1175132
Note

QC 20180117

Available from: 2018-01-17 Created: 2018-01-17 Last updated: 2018-01-17Bibliographically approved

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Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics NORDITA
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