Spectral analysis of the quiescent low-mass X-ray binary in the globular cluster M30

C. S. Echiburú, S. Guillot, Y. Zhao, C. O. Heinke, F. Özel, N. A. Webb

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We present a recent Chandra observation of the quiescent low-mass X-ray binary containing a neutron star, located in the globular cluster M30. We fit the thermal emission from the neutron star to extract its mass and radius. We find no evidence of flux variability between the two observations taken in 2001 and 2017, nor between individual 2017 observations, so we analyse them together to increase the signal to noise. We perform simultaneous spectral fits using standard light-element composition atmosphere models (hydrogen or helium), including absorption by the interstellar medium, correction for pile-up of X-ray photons on the detector, and a power-law for count excesses at high photon energy. Using a Markov-chain Monte Carlo approach, we extract mass and radius credible intervals for both chemical compositions of the atmosphere: RNS = 7.94+01..7621 km and MNS < 1.19 M assuming pure hydrogen, and RNS = 10.50+22..8803 km and MNS < 1.78 M for helium, where the uncertainties represent the 90% credible regions. For H, the small radius is difficult to reconcile with most current nuclear physics models (especially for nucleonic equations of state) and with other measurements of neutron star radii, with recent preferred values generally in the 11–14 km range. Whereas for He, the measured radius is consistent with this range. We discuss possible sources of systematic uncertainty that may result in an underestimation of the radius, identifying the presence of surface temperature inhomogeneities as the most relevant bias. According to this, we conclude that either the atmosphere is composed of He, or it is a H atmosphere with a significant contribution of hot spots to the observed radiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - May 22 2020


  • Globular clusters: individual: M30
  • Stars: neutron
  • X-rays: binaries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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