A Comprehensive Library of X-ray Pulsars in the Small Magellanic Cloud: Time Evolution of their Luminosities and Spin Periods [HEAP]


We have collected and analyzed the complete archive of {\itshape XMM-Newton\} (116), {\itshape Chandra\} (151), and {\itshape RXTE\} (952) observations of the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), spanning 1997-2014. The resulting observational library provides a comprehensive view of the physical, temporal and statistical properties of the SMC pulsar population across the luminosity range of $L_X= 10^{31.2}$–$10^{38}$~erg~s$^{-1}$. From a sample of 67 pulsars we report $\sim$1654 individual pulsar detections, yielding $\sim$1260 pulse period measurements. Our pipeline generates a suite of products for each pulsar detection: spin period, flux, event list, high time-resolution light-curve, pulse-profile, periodogram, and spectrum. Combining all three satellites, we generated complete histories of the spin periods, pulse amplitudes, pulsed fractions and X-ray luminosities. Some pulsars show variations in pulse period due to the combination of orbital motion and accretion torques. Long-term spin-up/down trends are seen in 12/11 pulsars respectively, pointing to sustained transfer of mass and angular momentum to the neutron star on decadal timescales. Of the sample 30 pulsars have relatively very small spin period derivative and may be close to equilibrium spin. The distributions of pulse-detection and flux as functions of spin-period provide interesting findings: mapping boundaries of accretion-driven X-ray luminosity, and showing that fast pulsars ($P<$10 s) are rarely detected, which yet are more prone to giant outbursts. Accompanying this paper is an initial public release of the library so that it can be used by other researchers. We intend the library to be useful in driving improved models of neutron star magnetospheres and accretion physics.

Read this paper on arXiv…

J. Yang, S. Laycock, D. Christodoulou, et. al.
Thu, 16 Mar 17

Comments: 17 pages, 11 + 58 (appendix) figures. To appear in the Astrophysical Journal Supplement