Volume 600, April 2017
|Number of page(s)||8|
|Section||Stellar structure and evolution|
|Published online||28 March 2017|
Probing the possibility of hotspots on the central neutron star in HESS J1731−347
1 Institut für Astronomie und Astrophysik, Kepler Center for Astro and Particle Physics, Universität Tübingen, Sand 1, 72076 Tübingen, Germany
2 Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Profsoyuznaya Str. 84/32, Moscow 117997, Russia
3 Tuorla Observatory, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Turku, Väisäläntie 20, 21500 Piikkiö, Finland
4 Nordita, KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Stockholm University, Roslagstullsbacken 23, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden
Received: 8 November 2016
Accepted: 6 January 2017
The X-ray spectra of the neutron stars located in the centers of supernova remnants Cas A and HESS J1731−347 are well fit with carbon atmosphere models. These fits yield plausible neutron star sizes for the known or estimated distances to these supernova remnants. The evidence in favor of the presence of a pure carbon envelope at the neutron star surface is rather indirect and is based on the assumption that the emission is generated uniformly by the entire stellar surface. Although this assumption is supported by the absence of pulsations, the observational upper limit on the pulsed fraction is not very stringent. In an attempt to quantify this evidence, we investigate the possibility that the observed spectrum of the neutron star in HESS J1731−347 is a combination of the spectra produced in a hydrogen atmosphere of the hotspots and of the cooler remaining part of the neutron star surface. The lack of pulsations in this case has to be explained either by a sufficiently small angle between the neutron star spin axis and the line of sight, or by a sufficiently small angular distance between the hotspots and the neutron star rotation poles. As the observed flux from a non-uniformly emitting neutron star depends on the angular distribution of the radiation emerging from the atmosphere, we have computed two new grids of pure carbon and pure hydrogen atmosphere model spectra accounting for Compton scattering. Using new hydrogen models, we have evaluated the probability of a geometry that leads to a pulsed fraction below the observed upper limit to be about 8.2%. Such a geometry thus seems to be rather improbable but cannot be excluded at this stage.
Key words: radiative transfer / methods: numerical / stars: atmospheres / stars: neutron / X-rays: stars
© ESO, 2017
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