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A new transient pulsar in the Small Magellanic Cloud with an unusual x-ray spectrumThis article reports the discovery of a luminous (3.5 x 10(exp 37) ergs/sec over the 0.2 to 2 keV band) transient X-ray pulsar in the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) with an extremely soft component to its X-ray spectrum. This is the first time that a spectrum of this type has been seen in this class of X-ray source. The pulse period is 2.7632 s, and the pulse modulation appears to vary with energy from nearly unpulsed in the low-energy band of the ROSAT Position Sensitive Proportional Counter (PSPC) (0.07 to 0.4 keV) to about 50% in the high-energy band (1.0 to 2.4 keV). The object, RX J0059.2-7138, also shows flickering variability in its X-ray emission on timescales of 50 to 100s. The pulse-phase-averaged PSPC X-ray spectrum can be well described by a two-component source model seen through an absorbing column density of approximately 10(exp 21) atoms cm(exp -2). One spectral component is a power law with photon index 2.4. The other component is significantly softer and can be described by either a steeply falling power law or a blackbody with a temperature KT(sub BB) approximately 35 eV. Ths component is transient, but evidently upulsed, and, for the blackbody model fits, requires a large bolometric luminosity: near, or even several times greater than, the Eddington luminosity for a 1.4 solar mass object. When these characteristics of its soft emission are considered, RX J0059.2-7138 appears quite similar to other X-ray sources in the magellanic Clouds, such as CAL 83, CAL 87, and RX J0527.8-6954, which show only extreme ultrasoft (EUS) X-ray spectra. The discovery of RX J0059.2-7138, a probably high-mass X-ray binary, clearly indicates that EUS spectra may arise from accretion-powered neutron-star X-ray sources. This result lends support to the idea that some of the 'pure' EUS sources may be shrouded low-mass X-ray binaries rather than accreting white dwarfs.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
External Source(s)
Hughes, John P. (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, MA uS, United States)
Date Acquired
August 16, 2013
Publication Date
May 20, 1994
Publication Information
Publication: Astrophysical Journal, Part 2 - Letters
Volume: 427
Issue: 1
ISSN: 0004-637X
Subject Category
Distribution Limits