A physical scenario for the high and low X-ray luminosity states in the transitional pulsar PSR J1023+0038

S. Campana, F. Coti Zelati, A. Papitto, N. Rea, D. F. Torres, M. C. Baglio, P. D'Avanzo

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    Abstract

    © 2016 ESO. The binary system PSR J1023+0038 (J1023) hosts a neutron star and a low-mass companion. J1023 is the best studied transitional pulsar, alternating a faint eclipsing millisecond radio pulsar state to a brighter X-ray active state. At variance with other low-mass X-ray binaries, this active state reaches luminosities of only ~1034 erg s-1, showing strong, fast variability. In the active state, J1023 displays: i) a high state (LX ~ 7 × 1033 erg s-1, 0.3-80 keV) occurring ~80% of the time and during which X-ray pulsations at the neutron star spin period are detected (pulsed fraction ~ 8%); ii) a low state (LX ~ 1033 erg s-1) during which pulsations are not detected (<∼ 3%); and iii) a flaring state during which sporadic flares occur in excess of ~ 1034 erg s-1, with no pulsation too. The transition between the high and the low states is very rapid, on a ~10 s timescale. Here we propose a plausible physical interpretation of the high and low states based on the (fast) transition among the propeller state and the radio pulsar state. We modelled the XMM-Newton spectra of the high, low and radio pulsar states, and found a good agreement with this physical picture.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numberA31
    JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
    Volume594
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016

    Keywords

    • Pulsars: general
    • Pulsars: individual: PSR J1023+0038
    • Stars: neutron
    • X-rays: binaries

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