Volume 455, Number 1, August III 2006
|Page(s)||283 - 289|
|Section||Stellar structure and evolution|
|Published online||31 July 2006|
XMM-Newton observation of the Be/neutron star system RX J0146.9+6121: a soft X-ray excess in a low luminosity accreting pulsar
INAF – Istituto di Astrofisica Spaziale e Fisica Cosmica Milano, via Bassini 15, 20133 Milano, Italy e-mail: email@example.com
Accepted: 19 April 2006
We report on the XMM-Newton observation of the Be/neutron star X-ray binary system RX J0146.9+6121, a long period (~23 m) pulsar in the NGC 663 open cluster. The X-ray luminosity decreased by a factor of two compared to the last observation carried out in 1998, reaching a level of erg s-1, the lowest ever observed in this source. The spectral analysis reveals the presence of a significant excess at low energies over the main power-law spectral component. The soft excess can be described by a black-body spectrum with a temperature of about 1 keV and an emitting region with a radius of ~140 m. Although the current data do not permit us to ascertain whether the soft excess is pulsed or not, its properties are consistent with emission from the neutron star polar cap. This is the third detection of a soft excess in a low luminosity ( erg s-1) pulsar, the others being X Per and 3A 0535+262, suggesting that such a spectral component, observed to date in higher luminosity systems, is a common feature of accreting X-ray pulsars. The results of these three sources indicate that, in low luminosity systems, the soft excess tends to have a higher temperature and a smaller surface area than in the high luminosity ones.
Key words: stars: individual: RX J0146.9+6121 / X-rays: binaries
© ESO, 2006
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