Optical spectroscopy of the quiescent counterpart to EXO 0748-676

C G Bassa, Peter G Jonker, D. Steeghs, Manuel A P Torres

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We present phase resolved optical spectroscopy and X-ray timing of the neutron star X-ray binary EXO 0748-676 after the source returned to quiescence in the autumn of 2008. The X-ray light curve displays eclipses consistent in orbital period, orbital phase and duration with the predictions and measurements before the return to quiescence. Hα and He i emission lines are present in the optical spectra and show the signature of the orbit of the binary companion, placing a lower limit on the radial velocity semi-amplitude of K 2 > 405 km s-1. Both the flux in the continuum and the emission lines show orbital modulations, indicating that we observe the hemisphere of the binary companion that is being irradiated by the neutron star. Effects due to this irradiation preclude a direct measurement of the radial velocity semi-amplitude of the binary companion; in fact, no stellar absorption lines are seen in the spectrum. Nevertheless, our observations place a stringent lower limit on the neutron star mass of M1 > 1.27 M . For the canonical neutron star mass of M1 = 1.4 M, the mass ratio is constrained to 0.075 < q < 0.105.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2055-2062
Number of pages8
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Accretion, accretion discs
  • Binaries: general
  • Stars: individual: EXO 0748-676
  • Stars: neutron
  • X-rays: binaries

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