Volume 504, Number 1, September II 2009
|Page(s)||185 - 197|
|Section||Stellar structure and evolution|
|Published online||09 July 2009|
A search for thermally emitting isolated neutron stars in the 2XMMp catalogue
Instituto de Astronomia, Geofísica e Ciências Atmosféricas, Universidade de São Paulo, R. do Matão 1226, 05508-090 São Paulo, Brazil e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 CNRS, Université de Strasbourg, Observatoire Astronomique, 11 rue de l'Université, 67000 Strasbourg, France
Accepted: 4 June 2009
The relatively large number of nearby radio-quiet and thermally emitting isolated neutron stars (INSs) discovered in the ROSAT All-Sky Survey, dubbed the “Magnificent Seven”, suggests that they belong to a formerly neglected major component of the overall INS population. So far, attempts to discover similar INSs beyond the solar vicinity failed to confirm any reliable candidate. The good positional accuracy and soft X-ray sensitivity of the EPIC cameras onboard the XMM-Newton satellite allow us to efficiently search for new thermally emitting INSs. We used the 2XMMp catalogue to select sources with no catalogued candidate counterparts and with X-ray spectra similar to those of the Magnificent Seven, but seen at greater distances and thus undergoing higher interstellar absorptions. Identifications in more than 170 astronomical catalogues and visual screening allowed us to select fewer than 30 good INS candidates. In order to rule out alternative identifications, we obtained deep ESO-VLT and SOAR optical imaging for the X-ray brightest candidates. We report here on the optical follow-up results of our search and discuss the possible nature of 8 of our candidates. A high X-ray-to-optical flux ratio together with a stable flux and soft X-ray spectrum make the brightest source of our sample, 2XMM J104608.7-594306, a newly discovered thermally emitting INS. The X-ray source 2XMM J010642.3+005032 has no evident optical counterpart and should be further investigated. The remaining X-ray sources are most probably identified with cataclysmic variables and active galactic nuclei, as inferred from the colours and flux ratios of their likely optical counterparts. Beyond the finding of new thermally emitting INSs, our study aims at constraining the space density of this Galactic population at great distances and at determining whether their apparently high density is a local anomaly or not.
Key words: stars: neutron / X-rays: individuals: 2XMM J104608.7-594306 / catalogs
© ESO, 2009
Current usage metrics show cumulative count of Article Views (full-text article views including HTML views, PDF and ePub downloads, according to the available data) and Abstracts Views on Vision4Press platform.
Data correspond to usage on the plateform after 2015. The current usage metrics is available 48-96 hours after online publication and is updated daily on week days.
Initial download of the metrics may take a while.