EDP Sciences
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Volume 496, Number 2, March III 2009
Page(s) 333 - 342
Section Astrophysical processes
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/200811091
Published online 09 February 2009
A&A 496, 333-342 (2009)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/200811091

The new intermediate long-bursting source XTE J1701-407 

M. Falanga1, 2, A. Cumming3, E. Bozzo4, 5, and J. Chenevez6

1  CEA Saclay, DSM/IRFU/Service d'Astrophysique (CNRS FRE 2591), 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
    e-mail: mfalanga@cea.fr
2  AIM - Unité Mixte de Recherche CEA - CNRS - Université Paris 7, Paris, France
3  Physics Department, McGill University, 3600 rue University, Montreal QC, H3A 2T8, Canada
4  INAF - Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma, Via Frascati 33, 00044 Rome, Italy
5  Dipartimento di Fisica - Universitá di Roma Tor Vergata, via della Ricerca Scientifica 1, 00133 Rome, Italy
6  National Space Institute, Technical University of Denmark, Juliane Maries Vej 30, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark

Received 6 October 2008 / Accepted 17 December 2008

Aims. XTE J1701-407 is a newly discovered X-ray transient source. We investigate its flux variability and study the intermediate long- and short-bursts discovered by Swift on July 17, and 27, 2008, respectively.
Methods. Only one intermediate long-burst, of duration $\approx$18 min and ten days later a short burst, have been recorded from XTE J1701-407. We analyzed the public available data from Swift and RXTE, and compared the observed properties of the intermediate long-burst with theoretical ignition condition and light curves to investigate the possible nuclear-burning processes.
Results. The intermediate long-burst may have exhibited a photospheric radius expansion, allowing us to derive the source distance at 6.2 kpc, assuming the empirically derived Eddington luminosity for pure helium. The intermediate long-burst decay was described most accurately by using two exponential functions with e-folding times of $\tau_1$ = 40$\pm$3 s and $\tau_2$ = 221$\pm$9 s. The bursts occurred at a persistent luminosity of $L_{\rm
per}$ = 8.3$\times$1036 erg s-1 ($\approx$2.2% of the Eddington luminosity). For the intermediate long-burst, the mass accretion rate per unit area onto the neutron star was $\dot{m}$$\approx$4$\times$103 g cm-2 s-1, and the total energy released was $E_{\rm burst}$$\approx$3.5$\times$1040 erg. This corresponds to an ignition column depth of $y_{\rm ign}$$\approx$1.8$\times$109 g cm-2, for a pure helium burning. We find that the energetics of this burst can be modeled in different ways, as (i) pure helium ignition, as the result of either pure helium accretion or depletion of hydrogen by steady burning during accumulation; or (ii) as ignition of a thick layer of hydrogen-rich material in a source of low metallicity. However, comparison of the burst duration with model light curves suggests that hydrogen burning plays an important role during the burst, and therefore that this source is a low accretion-rate burster with a low metallicity in the accreted material.

Key words: stars: binaries: close -- stars: individual: XTE J1701-407 -- stars: neutron -- X-rays: bursts

© ESO 2009

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