EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 498, Number 3, May II 2009
Page(s) 825 - 836
Section Stellar structure and evolution
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/200809373
Published online 19 March 2009
A&A 498, 825-836 (2009)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/200809373

Study of the accreting pulsar 4U 0115+63 using a bulk and thermal Comptonization model

C. Ferrigno1, 2, P. A. Becker3, A. Segreto4, T. Mineo4, and A. Santangelo2

1  ISDC, chemin d'Écogia 16, 1290 Versoix, Switzerland
    e-mail: Carlo.Ferrigno@unige.ch
2  IAAT, Abt. Astronomie, Universität Tübingen, Sand 1, 72076 Tübingen, Germany
3  Department of Computational and Data Sciences George Mason University 4400 University Drive, MS 6A3 Fairfax, VA 22030, USA
4  IASF – INAF, via Ugo la Malfa 153, 90146 Palermo, Italy

Received 9 January 2008 / Accepted 5 March 2009

Context. Highly magnetized pulsars accreting matter in a binary system are bright sources in the X-ray band (0.1–100 keV). Despite the early comprehension of the basic emission mechanism, their spectral energy distribution is generally described by phenomenological or simplified models.
Aims. We propose a study of the spectral emission from the high mass X-ray binary pulsar 4U 0115+63 by means of thermal and bulk Comptonization models based on the physical properties of such objects.
Methods. For this purpose, we analyze the BeppoSAX data in the energy range 0.7–100 keV of the 1999 giant outburst, 12 days after the maximum. We focus first on the phase averaged emission, and then on the phase resolved spectra, by modeling the system using a two-component continuum.
Results. At higher energy, above ~7 keV, the emission is due to thermal and bulk Comptonization of the seed photons produced by cyclotron cooling of the accretion column, and at lower energy, the emission is due to thermal Comptonization of a blackbody source in a diffuse halo close to the stellar surface. Phase resolved analysis establishes that most of the emission in the main peak comes from the column, while the low energy component gives a nearly constant contribution throughout the phase.
Conclusions. From the best fit parameters, we argue that the cyclotron emission is produced ~1.7 km above the stellar surface, and escapes from the column near its base, where the absorption features are generated by the interaction with the magnetic field in the halo. We find that in 4U 0115+63 , the observed spectrum is dominated by reprocessed cyclotron radiation, whereas in other bright sources with stronger magnetic fields such as Her X-1, the spectrum is dominated by reprocessed bremsstrahlung.

Key words: X-rays: binaries -- pulsars: individual: 4U 0115+63

© ESO 2009