EXIST perspective for Supergiant Fast X-ray Transients

Source: arXiv


Supergiant Fast X-ray Transients (SFXTs) are one of the most intriguing (and unexpected) results of the INTEGRAL mission. They are a new class of High Mass X-ray Binaries involving about 20 sources to date, with 8 firmly identified SFXTs and many candidates. They are composed by a massive OB supergiant star as companion donor and a compact object. At least four SFXTs host a neutron star, because X-ray pulsations have been discovered, while for the others a black hole cannot be excluded. SFXTs display short X-ray outbursts (compared with Be/X-ray transients) characterized by fast flares on brief timescales of hours and large flux variability typically in the range 1,000-100,000. The INTEGRAL/IBIS sensitivity allowed to catch only the bright flares (peaking at 1E36-1E37erg/s), without persistent or quiescent emission. The investigation of their properties, in particular the rapid variability time scales of their flaring activity, will greatly benefit from observations with the Energetic X-ray Imaging Survey Telescope (EXIST), with the possibility to perform a long term and continuous as possible monitoring of the hard X-ray sky. Comment: Accepted for publication on PoS, Proceedings of "The Extreme sky: Sampling the Universe above 10 keV", held in Otranto (Italy) in October 2009

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