Multi-instrument x-ray observations of thermonuclear bursts with short recurrence times

Laurens Keek, Duncan Kenneth Galloway, Jean J M In't Zand, Alexander Heger

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Type I X-ray bursts from low-mass X-ray binaries result from a thermonuclear runaway in the material accreted onto the neutron star. Although typical recurrence times are a few hours, consistent with theoretical ignition model predictions, there are also observations of bursts occurring as promptly as 10 minutes or less after the previous event. We present a comprehensive assessment of this phenomenon using a catalog of 3387 bursts observed with the BeppoSAX/WFCs and RXTE/PCA X-ray instruments. This catalog contains 136 bursts with recurrence times of less than 1 hr, that come in multiples of up to four events, from 15 sources. Short recurrence times are not observed from the so-called ultra-compact binaries, indicating that hydrogen-burning processes play a crucial role. As far as the neutron star spin frequency is known, these sources all spin fast at over 500 Hz; the rotationally induced mixing may explain burst recurrence times of the order of 10 minutes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)292 - 305
Number of pages14
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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