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On the nature of Be/X-ray binaries
Received 31 March 1998 / Accepted 23 June 1998
It has been suggested that most Be/X-ray binaries are low X-ray luminosity nearby objects, containing white dwarfs (Chevalier & Ilovaisky 1998). We show that existing evidence indicates that all known Be/X-ray binaries are relatively bright X-ray sources containing neutron stars and that the spectral distribution of this group differs considerably from that of isolated Be stars. We suggest that the different X-ray properties of the systems can be explained by the sizes of the orbits of the neutron stars. Systems with close orbits are bright transients which show no quiescent emission as a consequence of centrifugal inhibition of accretion. Systems with wide orbits are persistent sources and display no large outbursts. Systems with intermediate orbits present a mixture of both behaviours.
Key words: stars: emission line, Be binaries: close stars: neutron X-ray: stars
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Online publication: September 14, 1998