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Flares from a candidate Galactic magnetar suggest a missing link to dim isolated neutron stars

AuthorsCastro-Tirado, Alberto J. ; Ugarte Postigo, Antonio de ; Gorosabel, Javier ; Jelínek, Martin ; Fatkhullin, T. A.; Sokolov, Vladimir V.; Ferrero, P.; Kann, David Alexander; Klose, Sylvio; Sluse, Dominique; Bremer, M.; Winters, Jan Martin; Nuernberger, Dieter; Pérez-Ramírez, Dolores; Guerrero, Martín A. ; French, J.; Melady, Gary; Hanlon, Lorraine; McBreen, Brian; Leventis, K.; Markoff, Sera; Léon, Stéphane; Kraus, A.; Aceituno, Francisco José ; Cunniffe, R.; Kubánek, Petr ; Vítek, Stanislav; Schulze, Steve; Wilson, Alex C.; Hudec, R.; Durant, M.; González-Pérez, J. M.; Shahbaz, Tarik; Guziy, Sergey ; Pandey, Shashi Bhushan; Pavlenko, Elena P.; Sonbas, Eda; Trushkin, Sergei A.; Bursov, N. N.; Nizhelskij, Nikolaj A.; Sánchez-Fernández, Celia; Sabau-Graziati, Lola
Issue Date28-Sep-2008
PublisherNature Publishing Group
CitationNature 455(7212): 506-509 (2008)
AbstractMagnetars are young neutron stars with very strong magnetic fields of the order of 1014-1015G. They are detected in our Galaxy either as soft γ-ray repeaters or anomalous X-ray pulsars. Soft γ-ray repeaters are a rare type of γ-ray transient sources that are occasionally detected as bursters in the high-energy sky. No optical counterpart to the γ-ray flares or the quiescent source has yet been identified. Here we report multi-wavelength observations of a puzzling source, SWIFT J195509+261406. We detected more than 40 flaring episodes in the optical band over a time span of three days, and a faint infrared flare 11days later, after which the source returned to quiescence. Our radio observations confirm a Galactic nature and establish a lower distance limit of ~3.7kpc. We suggest that SWIFT J195509+261406 could be an isolated magnetar whose bursting activity has been detected at optical wavelengths, and for which the long-term X-ray emission is short-lived. In this case, a new manifestation of magnetar activity has been recorded and we can consider SWIFT J195509+261406 to be a link between the `persistent' soft γ-ray repeaters/anomalous X-ray pulsars and dim isolated neutron stars.
DescriptionThis work is based on observations carried out with the 0.3-m robotic telescope at the Spanish BOOTES-2 astronomical station of the Estación Experimental de La Mayora (CSIC), the 0.4-m WATCHER telescope operated by UCD at Boyden Observatory (South Africa), the 0.8-m IAC telescope at the Spanish Observatorio de Izaña of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), the 1.2-m Mercator telescope operated by the Flemish Community at the Spanish Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos of the IAC, the 1.34-m telescope at the Tautenburg Observatory (Germany), the 1.5-m OSN telescope at the Spanish Observatorio de Sierra Nevada of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (CSIC), the 6.0-m BTA telescope at the Special Astrophysical Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the 8.2-m VLT telescope of the European Southern Observatory at Paranal (Chile), the IRAM 30-m and Plateau de Bure Telescopes and the 100-m telescope of the Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie at Effelsberg (Germany). IRAM is supported by INSU/CNRS (France), MPG (Germany) and IGN (Spain).
4 pages, 4 figures.-- ArXiv pre-print version available at: http://arxiv.org/abs/0809.4231.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature07328
Appears in Collections:(IAA) Artículos
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