X-ray coherent pulsations during a sub-luminous accretion disc state of the transitional millisecond pulsar XSS J12270-4859

A. Papitto, D. De Martino, T. M. Belloni, M. Burgay, A. Pellizzoni, A. Possenti, D. F. Torres

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    Abstract

    © 2015 The Authors. We present the first detection of X-ray coherent pulsations from the transitional millisecond pulsar XSS J12270-4859, while it was in a sub-luminous accretion disc state characterized by a 0.5-10 keV luminosity of 5 × 1033 erg s-1 (assuming a distance of 1.4 kpc). Pulsations were observed by XMM-Newton at an rms amplitude of (7.7 ± 0.5) per cent with a second harmonic stronger than the fundamental frequency, and were detected when the source is neither flaring nor dipping. The most likely interpretation of this detection is that matter from the accretion disc was channelled by the neutron star magnetosphere and accreted on to its polar caps. According to standard disc accretion theory, for pulsations to be observed the mass inflow rate in the disc was likely larger than the amount of plasma actually reaching the neutron star surface; an outflow launched by the fast rotating magnetosphere then probably took place, in agreement with the observed broad-band spectral energy distribution. We also report about the non-detection of X-ray pulsations during a recent observation performed while the source behaved as a rotationally-powered radio pulsar.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)L26-L30
    JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters
    Volume449
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015

    Keywords

    • Accretion, accretion discs
    • Magnetic fields
    • Pulsars: individual: XSS J12270-4859
    • Stars: neutron
    • Stars: rotation
    • X-rays: binaries

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