Volume 525, January 2011
|Number of page(s)||7|
|Section||Stellar structure and evolution|
|Published online||06 December 2010|
Achromatic late-time variability in thermonuclear X-ray bursts
An accretion disk disrupted by a nova-like shell?
SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research,
2 Center for Stellar and Planetary Astrophysics & School of Physics, Monash University, VIC 3800, Australia
3 Center for Relativistic Astrophysics, School of Physics, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332, USA
Received: 10 August 2010
Accepted: 5 October 2010
An unusual Eddington-limited thermonuclear X-ray burst was detected from the accreting neutron star in 2S 0918-549 with the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer. The burst commenced with a brief (40 ms) precursor and maintained near-Eddington fluxes during the initial 77 s. These characteristics are indicative of a nova-like expulsion of a shell from the neutron star surface. Starting 122 s into the burst, the burst shows strong (87 ± 1% peak-to-peak amplitude) achromatic fluctuations for 60 s. We speculate that the fluctuations are caused by Thompson scattering by fully-ionized inhomogeneities in a resettling accretion disk that was disrupted by the effects of super-Eddington fluxes. An expanding shell may be the necessary prerequisite for the fluctuations.
Key words: accretion, accretion disks / X-rays: binaries / X-rays: bursts / X-rays: individuals: 2S 0918-549
© ESO, 2010
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