The newly discovered Be/X-ray binary Swift J004516.6-734703 in the SMC: witnessing the emergence of a circumstellar disc

J. A. Kennea, M. J. Coe, P. A. Evans, I. M. Monageng, L. J. Townsend, M. H. Siegel, A. Udalski, D. A.H. Buckley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We report on the discovery of Swift J004516.6-734703, a Be/X-ray binary system by the Swift SMC Survey, S-CUBED. Swift J004516.6-734703, or SXP 146.6, was found to be exhibiting a bright (∼1037 erg s-1) X-ray outburst on 2020 June 18. The historical UV and IR light-curves from OGLE and Swift/UVOT showed that after a long period of steady brightness, it experienced a significant brightening beginning around 2019 March. This IR/UV rise is likely the signature of the formation of a circumstellar disc, confirmed by the presence of strong an H α line in SALT spectroscopy, that was not previously present. Periodicity analysis of the OGLE data reveals a plausible 426 d binary period, and in X-ray a pulsation period of 146.6 s is detected. The onset of X-ray emission from Swift J004516.6-734703 is likely the signature of a Type-I outburst from the first periastron passage of the neutron star companion through the newly formed circumstellar disc. We note that the formation of the circumstellar disc began at the predicted time of the previous periastron passage, suggesting its formation was spurred by tidal interaction with the neutron star.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L41-L46
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters
Volume499
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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