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Astron. Astrophys. 356, 1003-1009 (2000)

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Detection of X-ray pulsations from the Be/X-ray transient A 0535+26 during a disc loss phase of the primary

I. Negueruela 1, P. Reig 2,3, M.H. Finger 4 and P. Roche 5

1 SAX SDC, ASI, c/o Nuova Telespazio, via Corcolle 19, 00131 Rome, Italy
2 Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas, 711 10 Heraklion, Crete, Greece
3 Physics Department, University of Crete, 710 03 Heraklion, Crete, Greece
4 Space Science Laboratory, ES84, NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL 35812, USA
5 Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Leicester, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK

Received 24 November 1999 / Accepted 8 February 2000


Using the RossiXTE experiment, we detect weak X-ray emission from the recurrent Be/X-ray transient A 0535+26 at a time when the optical counterpart V725 Tau displayed H[FORMULA] in absorption, indicating the absence of a circumstellar disc. The X-ray radiation is strongly modulated at the 103.5-s pulse period of the neutron star, confirming that it originates from A 0535+26. The source is weaker than in previous quiescence detections by two orders of magnitude and should be in the centrifugal inhibition regime. We show that the X-ray luminosity cannot be due to accretion on to the magnetosphere of the neutron star. Therefore this detection represents a new state of the accreting pulsar. We speculate that the X-ray emission can be due to some matter leaking through the magnetospheric barrier or thermal radiation from the neutron star surface due to crustal heating. The observed luminosity is probably compatible with recent predictions of thermal radiation from X-ray transients in quiescence. The detection of the X-ray source in the inhibition regime implies a reduced density in the outflow from the Be companion during its disc-less phase.

Key words: stars: circumstellar matter – stars: emission-line, Be – stars: individual: A 0535+26 – stars: binaries: close – stars: neutron – X-rays: stars

Correspondence to: ignacio@tocai.sdc.asi.it

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 2000

Online publication: April 17, 2000