Exciting the magnetosphere of the magnetar CXOU J164710.2–455216 in Westerlund 1

Muno, M. P.; Gaensler, B. M.; Clark, J. S.; De Grijs, R.; Pooley, D.; Stevens, I. R. and Portegies Zwart, S. F. (2007). Exciting the magnetosphere of the magnetar CXOU J164710.2–455216 in Westerlund 1. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters, 378(1) L44-L48.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1745-3933.2007.00317.x


We describe XMM-Newton observations taken 4.3 days prior to and 1.5 days subsequent to two remarkable events that were detected with Swift on 2006 September 21 from the candidate magnetar CXOU J164710.2-455216: (1) a 20 ms burst with an energy of 1e37 erg (15-150 keV), and (2) a rapid spin-down (glitch) with a fractionap period change of 1e-4. We find that the luminosity of the pulsar increased by a factor of 100 in the interval between observations, from 1e33 to 1e35 erg/s (0.5-8.0 keV), and that its spectrum hardened. The pulsed count rate increased by a factor of 10 (0.5-8.0 keV), but the fractional rms amplitude of the pulses decreased from 65 to 11 per cent, and their profile changed from being single-peaked to exhibiting three peaks. Similar changes have been observed from other magnetars in response to outbursts, such as that of 1E 2259+586 in 2002 June. We suggest that a plastic deformation of the neutron star's crust induced a very slight twist in the external magnetic field, which in turn generated currents in the magnetosphere that were the direct cause of the X-ray outburst.

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