Journal Article

GRB060602B = Swift J1749.4−2807: an unusual transiently accreting neutron-star X-ray binary

R. Wijnands, E. Rol, E. Cackett, R. L. C. Starling and R. A. Remillard

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 393, issue 1, pages 126-132
Published in print February 2009 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online January 2009 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2008.14175.x
GRB060602B = Swift J1749.4−2807: an unusual transiently accreting neutron-star X-ray binary

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We present an analysis of the Swift Burst Alert Telescope (BAT) and X-ray telescope (XRT) data of GRB060602B, which is most likely an accreting neutron star in a binary system and not a gamma-ray burst. Our analysis shows that the BAT burst spectrum is consistent with a thermonuclear flash (type I X-ray burst) from the surface of an accreting neutron star in a binary system. The X-ray binary nature is further confirmed by the report of a detection of a faint point source at the position of the XRT counterpart of the burst in archival XMM–Newton data approximately six year before the burst and in more recent XMM–Newton data obtained at the end of 2006 September (nearly four months after the burst). Since the source is very likely not a gamma-ray burst, we rename the source Swift J1749.4−2807, based on the Swift/BAT discovery coordinates. Using the BAT data of the type I X-ray burst, we determined that the source is at most at a distance of 6.7 ± 1.3 kpc. For a transiently accreting X-ray binary, its soft X-ray behaviour is atypical: its 2–10 keV X-ray luminosity (as measured using the Swift/XRT data) decreased by nearly three orders of magnitude in about 1 day, much faster than what is usually seen for X-ray transients. If the earlier phases of the outburst also evolved this rapidly, then many similar systems might remain undiscovered because the X-rays are difficult to detect and the type I X-ray bursts might be missed by all the sky surveying instruments. This source might be part of a class of very fast transient low-mass X-ray binary systems of which there may be a significant population in our Galaxy.

Keywords: accretion, accretion discs; binaries: close; X-rays: binaries

Journal Article.  5531 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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