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Pulsars in the SMC: P.I. Jim Lochner RXTE

sky view around SMC X-3

In late November of 1997 an RXTE slew which passed over the location of SMC X-3 detected a source in outburst. Its proximity to SMC X-3 triggered a ToO proposal for a pointing on the region. This and subsequent observations spanning from November 24, 1997 to March 25 1998 have uncovered the surprising result that, while SMC X-3 was not detected in outburst, no fewer than five new transient pulsing sources were! With periods ranging from 46 to 169 seconds, each pulsar is within a degree of the position of SMC X-3. Follow-up ASCA observations were used to locate the sources.

A brief observational history of the sources follows:

  • November 24 1997: AX J0051-722 (91 s) and XTE J0053-724 (46 s) appear.
  • December 12 1997: ASCA observation locates sources
  • December 17 1997: XTE J0054-720 (169 s) appears as others fade
  • January 20 1998: XTE J0054-720 disappears, while XTE J0055-724 (59 s) appears.
  • January 28 1998: SAX observation locates 59 s source
  • mid-February 1998: XTE J0055-724 fades.
  • March 25 1998: AX J0051-722 (91 s) reappears.

    Fig. 1: A composite power spectrum of the observations of sources near SMC X-3 shows the clear detection of four periodic sources. Periods are indicated on the figure.

    composite power spectrum

    Fig. 2: Pulse profile for one of the newly detected transient pulsars.

    pulse profile for 1 of the newly dected sources

    Figures and captions courtesy of Jim Lochner.

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