Discovery of coherent pulsations from the Ultraluminous X-ray Source NGC 7793 P13

Change log
Fuerst, F 
Walton, DJ 
Harrison, FA 
Stern, D 
Barret, D 

We report the detection of coherent pulsations from the ultraluminous X-ray source (ULX) NGC 7793 P13. The ≈0.42 s nearly sinusoidal pulsations were initially discovered in broadband X-ray observations using XMM-Newton and NuSTAR taken in 2016. We subsequently also found pulsations in archival XMM-Newton data taken in 2013 and 2014. The significant (≫5σ) detection of coherent pulsations demonstrates that the compact object in P13 is a neutron star, and given the observed peak luminosity of ≈10⁴⁰ erg s⁻¹ (assuming isotropy), it is well above the Eddington limit for a 1.4 M⨀ accretor. This makes P13 the second ULX known to be powered by an accreting neutron star. The pulse period varies between epochs, with a slow but persistent spin-up over the 2013–2016 period. This spin-up indicates a magnetic field of B ≈ 1.5 × 10¹² G, typical of many Galactic accreting pulsars. The most likely explanation for the extreme luminosity is a high degree of beaming; however, this is difficult to reconcile with the sinusoidal pulse profile.

accretion, accretion disks, pulsars: individual (NGC 7793 P13), stars: neutron, X-rays: binaries
Journal Title
Astrophysical Journal Letters
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Journal ISSN
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Institute of Physics Publishing
European Research Council (340442)
Science and Technology Facilities Council (ST/N004027/1)
Science and Technology Facilities Council (ST/M005283/1)
Science and Technology Facilities Council (ST/N000927/1)
We would like the thank the referee for the helpful comments. M.J.M. acknowledges support from an STFC Ernest Rutherford fellowship and D.B. acknowledges financial support from the French Space Agency (CNES). This research has made use of data obtained with NuSTAR, a project led by Caltech, funded by NASA and managed by NASA/JPL, and has utilized the nustardas software package, jointly developed by the ASDC (Italy) and Caltech (USA). This research has also made use of data obtained with XMM-Newton, an ESA science mission with instruments and contributions directly funded by ESA Member States. This work made use of data supplied by the UK Swift Science Data Centre at the University of Leicester, and also made use of the XRT Data Analysis Software (XRTDAS) developed under the responsibility of the ASI Science Data Center (ASDC), Italy. This research has made use of a collection of ISIS functions (ISISscripts) provided by ECAP/Remeis observatory and MIT ( Facilities: NuSTAR - The NuSTAR (Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array) mission, XMM - , Swift - .