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Two populations of X-ray pulsars produced by two types of supernovae

Two populations of X-ray pulsars produced by two types of supernovae
Two populations of X-ray pulsars produced by two types of supernovae
Two types of supernova are thought to produce the overwhelming majority of neutron stars in the Universe. The first type, iron-core collapse supernovae, occurs when a high-mass star develops a degenerate iron core that exceeds the Chandrasekhar limit. The second type, electron-capture supernovae, is associated with the collapse of a lower-mass oxygen-neon-magnesium core as it loses pressure support owing to the sudden capture of electrons by neon and/or magnesium nuclei. It has hitherto been impossible to identify the two distinct families of neutron stars produced in these formation channels. Here we report that a large, well-known class of neutron-star-hosting X-ray pulsars is actually composed of two distinct sub-populations with different characteristic spin periods, orbital periods and orbital eccentricities. This class, the Be/X-ray binaries, contains neutron stars that accrete material from a more massive companion star. The two sub-populations are most probably associated with the two distinct types of neutron-star-forming supernovae, with electron-capture supernovae preferentially producing system with short spin period, short orbital periods and low eccentricity. Intriguingly, the split between the two sub-populations is clearest in the distribution of the logarithm of spin period, a result that had not been predicted and which still remains to be explained
0028-0836
372-375
Knigge, Christian
ac320eec-631a-426e-b2db-717c8bf7857e
Coe, Malcolm J.
04dfb23b-1456-46a3-9242-5cee983471d5
Podsiadlowski, Philipp
173a56d9-45d2-4992-8f85-31850e606683
Knigge, Christian
ac320eec-631a-426e-b2db-717c8bf7857e
Coe, Malcolm J.
04dfb23b-1456-46a3-9242-5cee983471d5
Podsiadlowski, Philipp
173a56d9-45d2-4992-8f85-31850e606683

Knigge, Christian, Coe, Malcolm J. and Podsiadlowski, Philipp (2011) Two populations of X-ray pulsars produced by two types of supernovae. Nature, 479, 372-375. (doi:10.1038/nature10529).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Two types of supernova are thought to produce the overwhelming majority of neutron stars in the Universe. The first type, iron-core collapse supernovae, occurs when a high-mass star develops a degenerate iron core that exceeds the Chandrasekhar limit. The second type, electron-capture supernovae, is associated with the collapse of a lower-mass oxygen-neon-magnesium core as it loses pressure support owing to the sudden capture of electrons by neon and/or magnesium nuclei. It has hitherto been impossible to identify the two distinct families of neutron stars produced in these formation channels. Here we report that a large, well-known class of neutron-star-hosting X-ray pulsars is actually composed of two distinct sub-populations with different characteristic spin periods, orbital periods and orbital eccentricities. This class, the Be/X-ray binaries, contains neutron stars that accrete material from a more massive companion star. The two sub-populations are most probably associated with the two distinct types of neutron-star-forming supernovae, with electron-capture supernovae preferentially producing system with short spin period, short orbital periods and low eccentricity. Intriguingly, the split between the two sub-populations is clearest in the distribution of the logarithm of spin period, a result that had not been predicted and which still remains to be explained

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Published date: 9 November 2011
Organisations: Astronomy Group

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 337393
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/337393
ISSN: 0028-0836
PURE UUID: b85c9a46-9b61-4194-97c4-5ffae0031ff8
ORCID for Malcolm J. Coe: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-0763-8547

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Date deposited: 25 Apr 2012 13:28
Last modified: 18 Feb 2021 16:34

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