Journal Article

Effect of pulse profile variations on measurement of eccentricity in orbits of Cen X-3 and SMC X-1

Harsha Raichur and Biswajit Paul

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 401, issue 3, pages 1532-1539
Published in print January 2010 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online January 2010 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2009.15778.x
Effect of pulse profile variations on measurement of eccentricity in orbits of Cen X-3 and SMC X-1

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It has long been argued that better timing precision allowed by satellites like Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) will allow us to measure the orbital eccentricity and the angle of periastron of some of the bright persistent high-mass X-ray binaries (HMXBs) and hence a possible measurement of apsidal motion in these system. Measuring the rate of apsidal motion allows one to estimate the apsidal motion constant of the mass losing companion star and hence allows for the direct testing of the stellar structure models for these giant stars present in the HMXBs. In the present paper, we use the archival RXTE data of two bright persistent sources, namely Cen X-3 and SMC X-1, to measure the very small orbital eccentricity and the angle of periastron. We find that the small variations in the pulse profiles of these sources, rather than the intrinsic time resolution provided by RXTE, limit the accuracy with which we can measure arrival time of the pulses from these sources. This influences the accuracy with which one can measure the orbital parameters, especially the very small eccentricity and the angle of periastron in these sources. The observations of SMC X-1 in the year 2000 were taken during the high-flux state of the source and we could determine the orbital eccentricity and ω using this data set.

Keywords: stars: emission-line, Be; stars: neutron; X-rays: individual: Cen X-3; X-rays: individual: SMC X-1

Journal Article.  4518 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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