EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 498, Number 1, April IV 2009
Page(s) 233 - 240
Section Stellar structure and evolution
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/200810966
Published online 05 March 2009
A&A 498, 233-240 (2009)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/200810966

The isolated neutron star candidate 2XMM J104608.7-594306

A. M. Pires1, 2, C. Motch2, R. Turolla3, 4, A. Treves5, and S. B. Popov6

1  Instituto de Astronomia, Geofísica e Ciências Atmosféricas, Universidade de São Paulo, R. do Matão 1226, 05508-090 São Paulo, Brazil
    e-mail: apires@astro.iag.usp.br
2  CNRS, Université de Strasbourg, Observatoire Astronomique, 11 rue de l'Université, 67000 Strasbourg, France
3  Universitá di Padova, Dipartimento di Fisica, via Marzolo 8, 35131 Padova, Italy
4  Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College London, Holmbury St. Mary, Dorking, Surrey, RH5 6NT, UK
5  Universitá dell'Insubria, Dipartimento di Fisica e Matematica, Via Valleggio 11, 22100 Como, Italy
6  Sternberg Astronomical Institute, Universitetskii pr. 13, 119991 Moscow, Russia

Received 15 September 2008 / Accepted 11 February 2009

Over the last decade, X-ray observations have revealed the existence of several classes of isolated neutron stars (INSs) which are radio-quiet or exhibit radio emission with properties much at variance with those of ordinary radio pulsars. The identification of new sources is crucial in order to understand the relations among the different classes and to compare observational constraints with theoretical expectations. A recent analysis of the 2XMMp catalogue provided fewer than 30 new thermally emitting INS candidates. Among these, the source 2XMM J104608.7-594306 appears particularly interesting because of the softness of its X-ray spectrum, $kT=117\pm14$ eV and $N_{\rm H}=(3.5\pm1.1)\times10^{21}$ cm-2 (3$\sigma$), and of the present upper limits in the optical, $m_{\rm B}\ga26$, $m_{\rm V}\ga25.5$ and $m_{\rm R}\ga25$ (98.76% confidence level), which imply a logarithmic X-ray-to-optical flux ratio $\log(F_{\rm X}/F_{\rm V})\ga3.1$, corrected for absorption. We present the X-ray and optical properties of 2XMM J104608.7-594306 and discuss its nature in the light of two possible scenarios invoked to explain the X-ray thermal emission from INSs: the release of residual heat in a cooling neutron star, as in the seven radio-quiet ROSAT-discovered INSs, and accretion from the interstellar medium. We find that the present observational picture of 2XMM J104608.7-594306 is consistent with a distant cooling INS with properties in agreement with the most up-to-date expectations of population synthesis models: it is fainter, hotter and more absorbed than the seven ROSAT sources and possibly located in the Carina Nebula, a region likely to harbour unidentified cooling neutron stars. The accretion scenario, although not entirely ruled out by observations, would require a very slow (~10 km s-1) INS accreting at the Bondi-Hoyle rate.

Key words: stars: neutron -- X-rays: individuals: 2XMM J104608.7-594306  -- catalogs

© ESO 2009