A Neutron Star with a Massive Progenitor in Westerlund 1

Muno, Michael P.; Clark, J. Simon; Crowther, Paul A.; Dougherty, Sean M.; De Grijs, Richard; Law, Casey; McMillan, Stephen L. W.; Morris, Mark R.; Negueruela, Ignacio; Pooley, David; Portegies Zwart, Simon and Yusef-Zadeh, Farhad (2006). A Neutron Star with a Massive Progenitor in Westerlund 1. Astrophysical Journal Letters, 636 L41-L44.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/499776


We report the discovery of an X-ray pulsar in the young, massive Galactic star cluster Westerlund 1. We detected a coherent signal from the brightest X-ray source in the cluster, CXO J164710.2-455216, during two Chandra observations on 2005 May 22 and June 18. The period of the pulsar is 10.6107(1) s. We place an upper limit to the period derivative of Pdot<2e-10 s/s, which implies that the spin-down luminosity is Edot<3e33 erg/s. The X-ray luminosity of the pulsar is L_X = 3(+10,-2)e33 (D/5 kpc)^2 erg/s, and the spectrum can be described by a kT = 0.61+/-0.02 keV blackbody with a radius of R_bb = 0.27+/-0.03 (D/5 kpc}) km. Deep infrared observations reveal no counterpart with K<18.5, which rules out binary companions with M>1 Msun. Taken together, the properties of the pulsar indicate that it is a magnetar. The rarity of slow X-ray pulsars and the position of CXO J164710.2-455216 only 1.6' from the core of Westerlund 1 indicates that it is a member of the cluster with >99.97% confidence. Westerlund 1 contains 07V stars with initial masses M_i=35 Msun and >50 post-main-sequence stars that indicate the cluster is 4+/-1 Myr old. Therefore, the progenitor to this pulsar had an initial mass M_i>40 Msun. This is the most secure result among a handful of observational limits to the masses of the progenitors to neutron stars. [brace not closed]

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