Magnetar-like activity from the central compact object in the SNR RCW103 [HEAP]

The 6.67 hr long periodicity and the variable X-ray flux, of the central compact object (CCO) at the center of the SNR RCW 103, named 1E 161348-5055, have been always difficult to interpret within the standard scenarios of an isolated neutron star or a binary system. On 2016 June 22, the Burst Alert Telescope (BAT) onboard Swift detected a magnetar-like short X-ray burst from the direction of 1E 161348-5055, also coincident with a large long-term X-ray outburst. Here we report on the properties of this magnetar-like burst, on the Chandra, NuSTAR, and Swift (BAT and XRT) observations of this peculiar source during its 2016 outburst peak, as well as on the study of its long-term X-ray outburst activity (from 1999 to July 2016). We find that all the X-ray properties of this object are perfectly in line with it being a magnetar, which undergoes typical X-ray flares and transient events. However, in this scenario, the 6.67 hr periodicity can only be interpreted as the rotation period of this strongly magnetized neutron star, which would represent by orders of magnitudes the slowest pulsar ever detected. We briefly discuss the different slow-down viable scenarios, favouring a picture involving a period of fall-back accretion after the supernova explosion, similarly to what invoked (although in a different regime) to explain the “anti-magnetar” scenario for other CCOs.

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N. Rea, A. Borghese, P. Esposito, et. al.
Fri, 15 Jul 16

Comments: 5 pages, 3 figures, ApJ Letter submitted