A New Low Magnetic Field Magnetar: The 2011 Outburst of Swift J1822.3-1606

The Astrophysical Journal (Impact Factor: 6.28). 07/2012; 754(1):27. DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/754/1/27

ABSTRACT We report on the long-term X-ray monitoring with Swift, RXTE, Suzaku, Chandra, and XMM-Newton of the outburst of the newly discovered magnetar Swift J1822.3-1606 (SGR 1822-1606), from the first observations soon after the detection of the short X-ray bursts which led to its discovery, through the first stages of its outburst decay (covering the time span from 2011 July until the end of 2012 April). We also report on archival ROSAT observations which detected the source during its likely quiescent state, and on upper limits on Swift J1822.3-1606's radio-pulsed and optical emission during outburst, with the Green Bank Telescope and the Gran Telescopio Canarias, respectively. Our X-ray timing analysis finds the source rotating with a period of P = 8.43772016(2) s and a period derivative \dot{P}=8.3(2)\times 10^{-14} s s-1, which implies an inferred dipolar surface magnetic field of B ~= 2.7 × 10^13 G at the equator. This measurement makes Swift J1822.3-1606 the second lowest magnetic field magnetar (after SGR 0418+5729). Following the flux and spectral evolution from the beginning of the outburst, we find that the flux decreased by about an order of magnitude, with a subtle softening of the spectrum, both typical of the outburst decay of magnetars. By modeling the secular thermal evolution of Swift J1822.3-1606, we find that the observed timing properties of the source, as well as its quiescent X-ray luminosity, can be reproduced if it was born with a poloidal and crustal toroidal fields of Bp ~ 1.5 × 10^14 G and B tor ~ 7 × 10^14 G, respectively, and if its current age is ~550 kyr.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Quasi-periodic oscillations (QPOs) observed in the giant flares of magnetars are of particular interest due to their potential to open up a window into the neutron star interior via neutron star asteroseismology. However, only three giant flares have been observed. We therefore make use of the much larger data set of shorter, less energetic recurrent bursts. Here, we report on a search for QPOs in a large data set of bursts from the two most burst-active magnetars, SGR 1806-20 and SGR 1900+14, observed with the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE). We find a single detection in an averaged periodogram comprising 30 bursts from SGR 1806-20, with a frequency of 57 Hz and a width of 5 Hz, remarkably similar to a giant flare QPO observed from SGR 1900+14. This QPO fits naturally within the framework of global magneto-elastic torsional oscillations employed to explain the giant flare QPOs. Additionally, we uncover a limit on the applicability of Fourier analysis for light curves with low background count rates and strong variability on short timescales. In this regime, standard Fourier methodology and more sophisticated Fourier analyses fail in equal parts by yielding an unacceptably large number of false positive detections. This problem is not straightforward to solve in the Fourier domain. Instead, we show how simulations of light curves can offer a viable solution for QPO searches in these light curves.
    The Astrophysical Journal 09/2014; 795(2). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/795/2/114 · 6.28 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The origin of the strong magnetic fields measured in magnetars is one of the main uncertainties in the neutron star field. On the other hand, the recent discovery of a large number of such strongly magnetized neutron stars, is calling for more investigation on their formation. The first proposed model for the formation of such strong magnetic fields in magnetars was through alpha-dynamo effects on the rapidly rotating core of a massive star. Other scenarios involve highly magnetic massive progenitors that conserve their strong magnetic moment into the core after the explosion, or a common envelope phase of a massive binary system. In this work, we do a complete re-analysis of the archival X-ray emission of the Supernova Remnants (SNR) surrounding magnetars, and compare our results with all other bright X-ray emitting SNRs, which are associated with Compact Central Objects (CCOs; which are proposed to have magnetar-like B-fields buried in the crust by strong accretion soon after their formation), high-B pulsars and normal pulsars. We find that emission lines in SNRs hosting highly magnetic neutron stars do not differ significantly in elements or ionization state from those observed in other SNRs, neither averaging on the whole remnants, nor studying different parts of their total spatial extent. Furthermore, we find no significant evidence that the total X-ray luminosities of SNRs hosting magnetars, are on average larger than that of typical young X-ray SNRs. Although biased by a small number of objects, we found that for a similar age, there is the same percentage of magnetars showing a detectable SNR than for the normal pulsar population.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 09/2014; 444(3). DOI:10.1093/mnras/stu1594 · 5.23 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The magnetic field strength at birth is arguably one of the most important properties to determine the evolutionary path of a neutron star. Objects with very high fields, collectively known as magnetars, are characterized by high X-ray quiescent luminosities, occurrence of outbursts, and, for some of them, sporadic giant flares. While the magnetic field strength is believed to drive their collective behaviour, however, the diversity of their properties, and, especially, the observation of magnetar-like bursts from “low-field” pulsars, has been a theoretical puzzle. In this review, we discuss results of long-term simulations following the coupled evolution of the X-ray luminosity and the timing properties for a large, homogeneous sample of X-ray emitting isolated neutron stars, accounting for a range of initial magnetic field strengths, envelope compositions, and neutron star masses. In addition, by following the evolution of magnetic stresses within the neutron star crust, we can also relate the observed magnetar phenomenology to the physical properties of neutron stars, and in particular to their age and magnetic field strength and topology. The dichotomy of “high-B” field pulsars versus magnetars is naturally explained, and occasional outbursts from old, low B-field neutron stars are predicted. We conclude by speculating on the fate of old magnetars, and by presenting observational diagnostics of the neutron star crustal field topology. (© 2014 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim)
    Astronomische Nachrichten 08/2014; 335(6‐7). DOI:10.1002/asna.201412098 · 1.12 Impact Factor

Full-text (2 Sources)

Available from
May 29, 2014