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Astron. Astrophys. 319, 507-510 (1997)


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A double peaked pulse profile observed in GX 1+4

B. Paul , P. C. Agrawal , A. R. Rao and R. K. Manchanda

Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Homi Bhabha Road, Bombay 400 005, India

Received 9 August 1996 / Accepted 20 August 1996

Abstract

The hard X-ray pulsar GX 1+4 was observed several times in the last few years with a pair of balloon-borne Xenon filled Multi-cell Proportional Counters (XMPC). In a balloon flight made on 22 March 1995, the source was detected in a bright state, the average observed source count rate being [FORMULA] s-1 per detector. X-ray pulsations with a period of [FORMULA] s were detected in the source with a broad double peak pulse feature. When observed in December 1993 with the same instrument, the pulse profile of GX 1+4 showed a single peak. This change in the pulse profile to a double pulse structure in about 15 months indicates either activation of the opposite pole of the neutron star if the magnetic field is asymmetric or possibly a change in the beam pattern, from a pencil beam to a fan beam. Assuming a fan beam configuration, the pulse profile is used to find the inclinations of the magnetic axis and the viewing axis with the spin axis. The derived angles support the GINGA observations of a dip in the pulse profile which was resolved to have a local maximum in one of the observations and was explained with resonance scattering of cyclotron line energy photons by the accretion column (Makishima et al., 1988, Dotani et al., 1989.). Compared to our previous observation of the same source with the same telescope (Rao et al., 1994) a period change rate of [FORMULA] s yr-1 is obtained which is the lowest rate of change of period for this source since its discovery.

Average pulse fraction in the hard X-ray range is low [FORMULA], consistent with its anti correlation with luminosity as reported by us earlier (Rao et al., 1994) and the observed spectrum is very hard (power law photon index [FORMULA]).

Key words: X-rays: stars – pulsars: individual: GX 1+4

Send offprint requests to: B. Paul, (bpaul@tifrvax.tifr.res.in

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1997

Online publication: July 3, 1998

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