Optical and X-ray study of the peculiar high mass X-ray binary XMMU J010331.7-730144

Monageng, I. M.; Coe, M. J.; Buckley, D. A. H.; McBride, V. A.; Kennea, J. A.; Udalski, A.; Evans, P. A.; Clark, J. S. and Negueruela, I. (2020). Optical and X-ray study of the peculiar high mass X-ray binary XMMU J010331.7-730144. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 496(3) pp. 3615–3622.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/mnras/staa1739


For a long time XMMU J010331.7-730144 was proposed as a high-mass X-ray binary candidate based on its X-ray properties, however, its optical behaviour was unclear - in particular previous observations did not reveal key Balmer emission lines. In this paper we report on optical and X-ray variability of the system. XMMU J010331.7-730144 has been monitored with the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE) in the I and V −bands for the past 9 years where it has shown extremely large amplitude outbursts separated by long periods of low-level flux. During its most recent optical outburst we obtained spectra with the Southern Africa Large Telescope (SALT) where, for the first time, the Hα line is seen in emission, confirming the Be nature of the optical companion. The OGLE colour-magnitude diagrams also exhibit a distinct loop which is explained by changes in mass-loss from the Be star and mass outflow in its disc. In the X-rays, XMMU J010331.7-730144 has been monitored by the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory through the S-CUBED programme. The X-ray flux throughout the monitoring campaign shows relatively low values for a typical Be/X-ray binary system. We show, from the analysis of the optical data, that the variability is due to the Be disc density and opacity changing rather than its physical extent as a result of efficient truncation by the NS. The relatively low X-ray flux can then be explained by the neutron star normally accreting matter at a low rate due to the small radial extent of the Be disc.

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