Determination of the mass of the neutron star in SMC X-1, LMC X-4, and Cen X-3 with VLT/UVES *,**,***
Astronomical Institute “Anton Pannekoek”, University of Amsterdam, Kruislaan 403, 1098 SJ Amsterdam, The Netherlands e-mail: email@example.com
2 Center for High-Energy Astrophysics, Kruislaan 403, 1098 SJ, The Netherlands
3 Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Toronto, 60 St George Street, Toronto, ON M5S 3H8, Canada
Accepted: 24 June 2007
We present the results of a spectroscopic monitoring campaign of the OB-star companions to the eclipsing X-ray pulsars SMC X-1, LMC X-4 and Cen X-3. High-resolution optical spectra obtained with UVES on the ESO Very Large Telescope are used to determine the radial-velocity orbit of the OB (super)giants with high precision. The excellent quality of the spectra provides the opportunity to measure the radial-velocity curve based on individual lines, and to study the effect of possible distortions of the line profiles due to e.g. X-ray heating on the derived radial-velocity amplitude. Several spectral lines show intrinsic variations with orbital phase. The magnitude of these variations depends on line strength, and thus provides a criterion to select lines that do not suffer from distortions. The undistorted lines show a larger radial-velocity amplitude than the distorted lines, consistent with model predictions. Application of our line-selection criteria results in a mean radial-velocity amplitude Kopt of 20.2 ± 1.1, 35.1 ± 1.5, and 27.5 ± 2.3 km s-1 (1 σ errors), for the OB companion to SMC X-1, LMC X-4 and Cen X-3, respectively. Adding information on the projected rotational velocity of the OB companion (derived from our spectra), the duration of X-ray eclipse and orbital parameters of the X-ray pulsar (obtained from literature), we arrive at a neutron star mass of 1.06, 1.25 and 1.34 for SMC X-1, LMC X-4 and Cen X-3, respectively. The mass of SMC X-1 is near the minimum mass (~1 ) expected for a neutron star produced in a supernova. We discuss the implications of the measured mass distribution on the neutron-star formation mechanism, in relation to the evolutionary history of the massive binaries.
Key words: stars: binaries: eclipsing / stars: neutron / stars: general / equation of state / accretion, accretion disks
Based on observations obtained at the European Southern Observatory at Paranal, Chile (ESO program 68.D-0568).
© ESO, 2007