The magnetar nature and the outburst mechanism of a transient anomalous x-ray pulsar

Tolga Güver, Feryal Ozel, Ersin Göǧüş, Chryssa Kouveliotou

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Abstract

Anomalous X-ray pulsars (AXPs) belong to a class of neutron stars believed to harbor the strongest magnetic fields in the universe, as indicated by their energetic bursts and their rapid spin-downs. However, an unambiguous measurement of their surface field strengths has not been made to date. It is also not known whether AXP outbursts result from changes in the neutron star magnetic field or crust properties. Here we report a spectroscopic measurement of the surface magnetic field strength of an AXP, XTE J1810-197, and solidify its magnetar nature. The field strength obtained from detailed spectral analysis and modeling, B = (2.72 ± 0.03) × 1014 G, is remarkably close to the value inferred from the rate of spin-down of this source and remains nearly constant during numerous observations spanning over an order of magnitude in source flux. The surface temperature, on the other hand, declines steadily and dramatically following the 2003 outburst of this source. Our findings demonstrate that heating occurs in the upper neutron star crust during an outburst and sheds light on the transient behavior of AXPs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume667
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 20 2007

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Keywords

  • Pulsars: general
  • Stars: individual (XTE J1810-197)
  • Stars: neutron
  • X-rays: stars

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics

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