The superburst recurrence time in luminous persistent LMXBs
SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research, Sorbonnelaan 2, 3584 CA Utrecht, The Netherlandse-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Astronomical Institute, Utrecht University, Princetonplein 5, 3584 CC Utrecht, The Netherlands
3 Physics Department, McGill University, 3600 rue University, Montreal, QC, H3A 2T8, Canada
Accepted: 11 May 2006
Theory and observations favor stable helium burning as the most important means to produce fuel for superbursts on neutron star surfaces. However, all known superbursters exhibit unstable burning as well. This ambiguity prompted us to search for superbursts in data from the BeppoSAX Wide Field Cameras of ten luminous LMXBs, most of which do not exhibit normal type-I X-ray bursts. We found no superbursts and determine a lower limit on the recurrence time which varies between 30 and 76 days (90% confidence). All recurrence time limits except one are longer than the observed recurrence time for GX 17+2. This difference can be understood if the mass accretion rate in GX 17+2 is several tens of percent higher than in the other sources; alternatively, the accreted material in GX 17+2 might be hydrogen deficient, leading to larger carbon yields than in the other sources. We compare our results to the latest models of superbursts. As our search method is indiscriminate of the burst ignition scenario, the recurrence time limits may also be applied to other bursts of similar duration and brightness.
Key words: stars: neutron / X-rays: binaries / X-rays: bursts
© ESO, 2006