Discovery of a transient magnetar: XTE J1810-197

Alaa I. Ibrahim, Craig B. Markwardt, Jean H. Swank, Scott Ransom, Mallory Roberts, Victoria Kaspi, Peter M. Woods, Samar Safi-Harb, Solen Balman, William C. Parke, Chryssa Kouveliotou, Kevin Hurley, Thomas Cline

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We report the discovery of a new X-ray pulsar, XTE J1810-197, that was serendipitously discovered on 2003 July 15 by the Rossi X- Ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) while observing the soft gamma repeater SGR 1806-20. The pulsar has a 5.54 s spin period, a soft X-ray spectrum (with a photon index of ≈4), and is detectable in earlier RXTE observations back to 2003 January but not before. These show that a transient outburst began between 2002 November 17 and 2003 January 23 and that the source's persistent X-ray flux has been declining since then. The pulsar exhibits a high spin-down rate ̇P ≈ 10-11 s s-1 with no evidence of Doppler shifts due to a binary companion. The rapid spin-down rate and slow spin period imply a supercritical characteristic magnetic field B ≃ 3 × 1014 G and a young age ≳T ̃ 7600 yr. Follow-up Chandra observations provided an accurate position of the source. Within its error radius, the 1.5 m Russian-Turkish Optical Telescope found a limiting magnitude RC = 21.5, All such properties are strikingly similar to those of anomalous X-ray pulsars and soft gamma repeaters, providing strong evidence that the source is a new magnetar. However, archival ASCA and ROSAT observations found the source nearly 2 orders of magnitude fainter. This transient behavior and the observed long-term flux variability of the source in absence of an observed SGR-like burst activity make it the first confirmed transient magnetar and suggest that other neutron stars that share the properties of XTE J1810 - 197 during its inactive phase may be unidentified transient magnetars awaiting detection via a similar activity. This implies a larger population of magnetars than previously surmised and a possible evolutionary connection between magnetars and other neutron star families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume609
Issue number1 II
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2004

Fingerprint

magnetars
pulsars
soft gamma repeaters
X Ray Timing Explorer
neutron stars
x rays
bursts
outburst
telescopes
radii
magnetic field
shift
photons
magnetic fields

Keywords

  • Pulsars: general
  • Pulsars: individual (XTE J1810-197)
  • Stars: magnetic fields
  • Stars: neutron
  • X-rays: stars

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Cite this

Ibrahim, A. I., Markwardt, C. B., Swank, J. H., Ransom, S., Roberts, M., Kaspi, V., ... Cline, T. (2004). Discovery of a transient magnetar: XTE J1810-197. Astrophysical Journal, 609(1 II). https://doi.org/10.1086/422636

Discovery of a transient magnetar : XTE J1810-197. / Ibrahim, Alaa I.; Markwardt, Craig B.; Swank, Jean H.; Ransom, Scott; Roberts, Mallory; Kaspi, Victoria; Woods, Peter M.; Safi-Harb, Samar; Balman, Solen; Parke, William C.; Kouveliotou, Chryssa; Hurley, Kevin; Cline, Thomas.

In: Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 609, No. 1 II, 01.07.2004.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Ibrahim, AI, Markwardt, CB, Swank, JH, Ransom, S, Roberts, M, Kaspi, V, Woods, PM, Safi-Harb, S, Balman, S, Parke, WC, Kouveliotou, C, Hurley, K & Cline, T 2004, 'Discovery of a transient magnetar: XTE J1810-197', Astrophysical Journal, vol. 609, no. 1 II. https://doi.org/10.1086/422636
Ibrahim AI, Markwardt CB, Swank JH, Ransom S, Roberts M, Kaspi V et al. Discovery of a transient magnetar: XTE J1810-197. Astrophysical Journal. 2004 Jul 1;609(1 II). https://doi.org/10.1086/422636
Ibrahim, Alaa I. ; Markwardt, Craig B. ; Swank, Jean H. ; Ransom, Scott ; Roberts, Mallory ; Kaspi, Victoria ; Woods, Peter M. ; Safi-Harb, Samar ; Balman, Solen ; Parke, William C. ; Kouveliotou, Chryssa ; Hurley, Kevin ; Cline, Thomas. / Discovery of a transient magnetar : XTE J1810-197. In: Astrophysical Journal. 2004 ; Vol. 609, No. 1 II.
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abstract = "We report the discovery of a new X-ray pulsar, XTE J1810-197, that was serendipitously discovered on 2003 July 15 by the Rossi X- Ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) while observing the soft gamma repeater SGR 1806-20. The pulsar has a 5.54 s spin period, a soft X-ray spectrum (with a photon index of ≈4), and is detectable in earlier RXTE observations back to 2003 January but not before. These show that a transient outburst began between 2002 November 17 and 2003 January 23 and that the source's persistent X-ray flux has been declining since then. The pulsar exhibits a high spin-down rate ̇P ≈ 10-11 s s-1 with no evidence of Doppler shifts due to a binary companion. The rapid spin-down rate and slow spin period imply a supercritical characteristic magnetic field B ≃ 3 × 1014 G and a young age ≳T ̃ 7600 yr. Follow-up Chandra observations provided an accurate position of the source. Within its error radius, the 1.5 m Russian-Turkish Optical Telescope found a limiting magnitude RC = 21.5, All such properties are strikingly similar to those of anomalous X-ray pulsars and soft gamma repeaters, providing strong evidence that the source is a new magnetar. However, archival ASCA and ROSAT observations found the source nearly 2 orders of magnitude fainter. This transient behavior and the observed long-term flux variability of the source in absence of an observed SGR-like burst activity make it the first confirmed transient magnetar and suggest that other neutron stars that share the properties of XTE J1810 - 197 during its inactive phase may be unidentified transient magnetars awaiting detection via a similar activity. This implies a larger population of magnetars than previously surmised and a possible evolutionary connection between magnetars and other neutron star families.",
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AU - Roberts, Mallory

AU - Kaspi, Victoria

AU - Woods, Peter M.

AU - Safi-Harb, Samar

AU - Balman, Solen

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AU - Kouveliotou, Chryssa

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KW - Pulsars: individual (XTE J1810-197)

KW - Stars: magnetic fields

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KW - X-rays: stars

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