Probing the nature of AX J0043−737: Not an 87 ms pulsar in the Small Magellanic Cloud
Max-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik, Giessenbachstraße,
2 Laboratoire AIM, CEA/DRF – CNRS – Université Paris Diderot, IRFU/DAp, CEA-Saclay, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
3 Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy, University of Amsterdam, Postbus 94249, 1090 GE Amsterdam, The Netherlands
4 Scuola Universitaria Superiore IUSS Pavia, piazza della Vittoria 15, 27100 Pavia, Italy
5 INAF, Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica, IASF-Milano, via E. Bassini 15, 20133 Milano, Italy
6 INFN, Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare, Sezione di Pavia, via A. Bassi 6, 27100 Pavia, Italy
7 Western Sydney University, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith South DC, NSW 1797, Australia
Accepted: 4 January 2018
Aims. AX J0043−737 is a source in the ASCA catalogue whose nature is uncertain. It is most commonly classified as a Crab-like pulsar in the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) following apparent detection of pulsations at ~87 ms from a single ASCA observation. A follow-up ASCA observation was not able to confirm this, and the X-ray detection of the source has not been reported since.
Methods. We studied the nature of the source with a dedicated XMM-Newton observation. We ascertained the source position, searched for the most probable counterpart, and studied the X-ray spectrum. We also analysed other archival observations with the source in the field of view to study its long-term variability.
Results. With the good position localisation capability of XMM-Newton, we identify the counterpart of the source as MQS J004241.66–734041.3, an active galactic nucleus (AGN) behind the SMC at a redshift of 0.95. The X-ray spectrum can be fitted with an absorbed power law with a photon-index of Γ = 1.7, which is consistent with that expected from AGNs. By comparing the current XMM-Newton observation with an archival XMM-Newton and two other ASCA observations of the source, we find signatures of long-term variability, another common phenomenon in AGNs. All of the above are consistent with AX J0043−737 being an AGN behind the SMC.
Key words: Magellanic Clouds / quasars: general / X-rays: galaxies / pulsars: individual: AX J0043–737
© ESO 2018