Journal Article

Spectral distribution of Be/X-ray binaries in the Small Magellanic Cloud*

V. A. McBride, M. J. Coe, I. Negueruela, M. P. E. Schurch and K. E. McGowan

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 388, issue 3, pages 1198-1204
Published in print August 2008 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online July 2008 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2008.13410.x
Spectral distribution of Be/X-ray binaries in the Small Magellanic Cloud*

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The spectral distributions of Be/X-ray binaries in the Large Magellanic Cloud and Galaxy have been shown to differ significantly from the distribution of isolated Be stars in the Galaxy. Population synthesis models can explain this difference in spectral distributions through substantial angular momentum loss from the binary system. In this work, we explore the spectral distribution of Be/X-ray binaries in the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) using high signal-to-noise ratio spectroscopy of a sample of 37 optical counterparts to known X-ray pulsars. Our results show that the spectral distribution of Be/X-ray binaries in the SMC is consistent with that of the Galaxy, despite the lower metallicity environment of the SMC. This may indicate that, although the metallicity of the SMC is conducive to the formation of a large number of high-mass X-ray binaries, the spectral distribution of these systems is likely to be most strongly influenced by angular momentum losses during binary evolution, which are not particularly dependent on the local metallicity.

Keywords: binaries: general; emission-line, Be; Magellanic Clouds

Journal Article.  4806 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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