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Title: Discovery of 1-5 Hz flaring at high luminosity in SAX J1808.4-3658

We report the discovery of a 1-5 Hz X-ray flaring phenomenon observed at >30 mCrab near peak luminosity in the 2008 and 2011 outbursts of the accreting millisecond X-ray pulsar SAX J1808.4-3658 in observations with the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer. In each of the two outbursts this high luminosity flaring is seen for ∼3 continuous days and switches on and off on a timescale of 1-2 hr. The flaring can be seen directly in the light curve, where it shows sharp spikes of emission at quasi-regular separation. In the power spectrum it produces a broad noise component, which peaks at 1-5 Hz. The total 0.05-10 Hz variability has a fractional rms amplitude of 20%-45%, well in excess of the 8%-12% rms broadband noise usually seen in power spectra of SAX J1808.4-3658. We perform a detailed timing analysis of the flaring and study its relation to the 401 Hz pulsations. We find that the pulse amplitude varies proportionally with source flux through all phases of the flaring, indicating that the flaring is likely due to mass density variations created at or outside the magnetospheric boundary. We suggest that this 1-5 Hz flaring is a high mass accretion rate version of themore » 0.5-2 Hz flaring which is known to occur at low luminosity (<13 mCrab), late in the tail of outbursts of SAX J1808.4-3658. We propose the dead-disk instability, previously suggested as the mechanism for the 0.5-2 Hz flaring, as a likely mechanism for the high luminosity flaring reported here.« less
Authors:
;  [1]
  1. Anton Pannekoek Institute, University of Amsterdam, Postbus 94249, 1090 GE Amsterdam (Netherlands)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22365731
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 789; Journal Issue: 2; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; DENSITY; EMISSION; INSTABILITY; LUMINOSITY; MASS; NEUTRONS; PULSARS; SMALL ANGLE SCATTERING; SPECTRA; STARS; VISIBLE RADIATION; X RADIATION; X-RAY DIFFRACTION