Achromatic late-time variability in thermonuclear X-ray bursts: An accretion disk disrupted by a nova-like shell?

Jean Zand, Duncan Galloway, D Ballantyne

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An unusual Eddington-limited thermonuclear X-ray burst was detected from the accreting neutron star in 2S 0918-549 with the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer. The burst commenced with a brief (40 ms) precursor and maintained near-Eddington fluxes during the initial 77 s. These characteristics are indicative of a nova-like expulsion of a shell from the neutron star surface. Starting 122 s into the burst, the burst shows strong (87 +/- 1 peak-to-peak amplitude) achromatic fluctuations for 60 s. We speculate that the fluctuations are caused by Thompson scattering by fully-ionized inhomogeneities in a resettling accretion disk that was disrupted by the effects of super-Eddington fluxes. An expanding shell may be the necessary prerequisite for the fluctuations.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberA111
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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