- Discovery of coherent millisecond X-ray pulsations in Aquila X-1
- Astrophysical Journal Letters
- Volume | Issue number
- 674 | 1
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy (API)
We report the discovery of an episode of coherent millisecond X-ray pulsation in the neutron star low-mass X-ray binary Aql X-1. The episode lasts for slightly more than 150 s, during which the pulse frequency is consistent with being constant. No X-ray burst or other evidence of thermonuclear burning activity is seen in correspondence with the pulsation, which can thus be identified as occurring in the persistent emission. The pulsation frequency is 550.27 Hz, very close (0.5 Hz higher) to the maximum reported frequency from burst oscillations in this source. Hence we identify this frequency with the neutron star spin frequency. The pulsed fraction is strongly energy dependent, ranging from <1% at 3-5 keV to >10% at 16-30 keV. We discuss possible physical interpretations and their consequences for our understanding of the lack of pulsation in most neutron star low-mass X-ray binaries. If interpreted as accretion-powered pulsation, Aql X-1 might play a key role in understanding the differences between pulsating and nonpulsating sources.
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