The puzzling case of the accreting millisecond X-ray pulsar IGR J00291+5934: Flaring optical emission during quiescence

M. C. Baglio, S. Campana, P. D'Avanzo, A. Papitto, L. Burderi, T. Di Salvo, T. Muñoz-Darias, N. Rea, D. F. Torres

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    © ESO, 2017. We present an optical (gri) study during quiescence of the accreting millisecond X-ray pulsar IGR J00291+5934 performed with the 10.4 m Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) in August 2014. Although the source was in quiescence at the time of our observations, it showed a strong optical flaring activity, more pronounced in bluer filters (i.e. the g-band). After subtracting the flares, we tentatively recovered a sinusoidal modulation at the system orbital period in all bands, even when a significant phase shift with respect to an irradiated star, typical of accreting millisecond X-ray pulsars, was detected. We conclude that the observed flaring could be a manifestation of the presence of an accretion disc in the system. The observed light curve variability could be explained by the presence of a superhump, which might be another proof of the formation of an accretion disc. In particular, the disc at the time of our observations was probably preparing the new outburst of the source, which occurred a few months later, in 2015.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numberA109
    JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
    Volume600
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017

    Keywords

    • Accretion, accretion disks
    • Stars: neutron
    • X-rays: binaries

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