Volume 451, Number 2, May IV 2006
|Page(s)||L17 - L21|
|Published online||02 May 2006|
Letter to the Editor
Evidence for precession of the isolated neutron star RX J0720.4-3125
Max-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik, Giessenbachstraße, 85748 Garching, Germany e-mail: email@example.com
2 Department of Physics, University of Padua, via Marzolo 8, 35131 Padova, Italy
3 SRON, Netherlands Institute for Space Research, Sorbonnelaan 2, 3584 CA Utrecht, The Netherlands
4 Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College London, Holmbury St. Mary, Dorking, Surrey, RH5 6NT, UK
5 University Utrecht, PO Box 80000, 3508 TA Utrecht, The Netherlands
Accepted: 23 March 2006
The XMM-Newton spectra of the isolated neutron star RX J0720.4-3125 obtained over 4.5 years can be described by sinusoidal variations in the inferred blackbody temperature, the size of the emitting area and the depth of the absorption line with a period of years, which we suggest to be the precession period of the neutron star. Precession of a neutron star with two hot spots of different temperature and size, probably not located exactly in antipodal positions, may account for the variations in the X-ray spectra, changes in the pulsed fraction, shape of the light curve and the phase-lag between soft and hard energy bands observed from RX J0720.4-3125. An independent sinusoidal fit to published and new pulse timing residuals from a coherent analysis covering ~12 years yields a consistent period of years supporting the precession model.
Key words: stars: individual: RX J0720.4-3125 / stars: neutron / stars: magnetic fields / X-rays: stars
© ESO, 2006
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