XMM-Newton reveals a candidate period for the spin of the “Magnificent Seven” neutron star RX J1605.3+3249⋆
1 Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP), An der Sternwarte 16, 14482 Potsdam, Germany
2 Max-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik, Giessenbachstraße, 85748 Garching, Germany
3 NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Universities Space Research Association, VP62, Huntsville AL 35812, USA
4 CNRS, Université de Strasbourg, Observatoire Astronomique, 11 rue de l’Université, 67000 Strasbourg, France
5 Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College London, Holmbury St. Mary, Dorking, Surrey, RH5 6NT, UK
6 Astrophysikalisches Institut und Universitäts-Sternwarte Jena, Schillergässchen 2-3, 07745 Jena, Germany
Received: 7 January 2014
Accepted: 28 January 2014
Context. The group of seven thermally emitting isolated neutron stars (INSs) discovered by ROSAT and known as the “Magnificent Seven” (M7) is unique among the various neutron star populations. Crustal heating by means of magnetic field decay and an evolutionary link with magnetars may explain why these objects rotate more slowly and have higher thermal luminosities and magnetic field intensities than standard rotation-powered pulsars of similar age.
Aims. The third brightest INS, RX J1605.3+3249, is the only object amidst the seven still lacking a detected periodicity. The source spectrum, while purely thermal with no significant magnetospheric emission, is complex and displays both narrow and broad absorption features that can potentially be used to constrain the surface component of the magnetic field, as well as the mass-to-radius ratio of the neutron star.
Methods. We observed the source with the XMM-Newton Observatory for 60 ks aiming at unveiling the neutron star rotation rate and investigating its spectrum in detail. We confront our results with previous observations of the source and discuss its properties in the context of the M7 as a group and of the known population of Galactic INSs.
Results. A periodic signal at P = 3.387864(16) s, most likely the neutron star spin period, is detected at the 4σ confidence level. The amplitude of the modulation was found to be energy dependent and is more significantly detected when the timing search is restricted to photons with energy higher than ~0.5 keV. The coherent combination of the new data with a past XMM-Newton EPIC-pn observation of the source constrains the pulsar spin-down rate at the 2σ confidence level, Hz s-1, implying a dipolar magnetic field of Bdip ~ 7.4 × 1013 G. If confirmed, RX J1605.3+3249 would be the neutron star with the highest dipolar field amongst the M7. The spectrum of the source shows evidence of a cool blackbody component, as well as for the presence of two broad absorption features. Furthermore, high-resolution spectroscopy with the RGS cameras confirms the presence of a narrow absorption feature at energy ~0.57 keV in the co-added spectrum of the source, also seen in other thermally emitting isolated neutron stars.
Conclusions. Phase-resolved spectroscopy, as well as a dedicated observing campaign aimed at determining a timing solution, will give invaluable constraints on the neutron star geometry and will allow one to confirm the high value of spin down, which would place the source closer to a magnetar than any other M7 INS.
Key words: X-rays: individuals: RX J1605.3+3249 / stars: neutron / pulsars: general
Based on observations obtained with XMM-Newton, an ESA science mission with instruments and contributions directly funded by ESA Member States and NASA (Target RX J1605.3+3249, obsid 0671620101).
© ESO, 2014