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Positive correlation between the cyclotron line energy and luminosity in sub-critical X-ray pulsars: Doppler effect in the accretion channel
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2015 (English)In: Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, ISSN 0035-8711, E-ISSN 1365-2966, Vol. 454, no 3, 2714-2721 p.Article in journal (Refereed) PublishedText
Abstract [en]

Cyclotron resonance scattering features observed in the spectra of some X-ray pulsars show significant changes of the line centroid energy with the pulsar luminosity. Whereas for bright sources above the so-called critical luminosity, these variations are established to be connected with the appearance of the high-accretion column above the neutron star surface, at low, sub-critical luminosities the nature of the variations (but with the opposite sign) has not been discussed widely. We argue here that the cyclotron line is formed when the radiation from a hotspot propagates through the plasma falling with a mildly relativistic velocity on to the neutron star surface. The position of the cyclotron resonance is determined by the Doppler effect. The change of the cyclotron line position in the spectrum with luminosity is caused by variations of the velocity profile in the line-forming region affected by the radiation pressure force. The presented model has several characteristic features: (i) the line centroid energy is positively correlated with the luminosity; (ii) the line width is positively correlated with the luminosity as well; (iii) the position and the width of the cyclotron absorption line are variable over the pulse phase; (iv) the line has a more complicated shape than widely used Lorentzian or Gaussian profiles; (v) the phase-resolved cyclotron line centroid energy and the width are negatively and positively correlated with the pulse intensity, respectively. The predictions of the proposed theory are compared with the variations of the cyclotron line parameters in the Xray pulsar GX 304-1 over a wide range of sub-critical luminosities as seen by the INTEGRAL observatory.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oxford University Press, 2015. Vol. 454, no 3, 2714-2721 p.
Keyword [en]
scattering, stars: neutron, pulsars: general, X-rays: binaries
National Category
Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-182881DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stv2182ISI: 000368000400036OAI: diva2:906403

QC 20160224

Available from: 2016-02-24 Created: 2016-02-23 Last updated: 2016-05-02Bibliographically approved

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Poutanen, Juri
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Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics NORDITA
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