The puzzling X-ray source in RCW103

  • A. De LucaEmail author
  • P. A. Caraveo
  • S. Mereghetti
  • A. Tiengo
  • G. F. Bignami
Conference paper


1E 161348-5055 (1E) is a compact object lying at the center of the 2000 year old Supernova Remnant (SNR) RCW103. Its original identification as an isolated, radio-quiet neutron star has been questioned in recent years by the observation of a significant long-term variability, as well as by reports of a possible periodicity at ∼6 hours. Here we report conclusive evidence for a strong (nearly 50%) periodic modulation of 1E at 6.67±0.03 hours, discovered during a long (90 ks) XMM-Newton observation performed in August 2005, when the source was in a “low state”. The source spectrum varies along the 6.67 hr cycle. No fast pulsations are seen. 1E could be a very young binary system, possibly composed of a compact object and a low-mass star in an eccentric orbit. This would be the first example of a low-mass X-ray binary (LMXB) associated with a SNR, and thus the first LMXB for which we know the precise birth date, just 2000 years ago. Alternatively, if it is an isolated neutron star, the unprecedented combination of age, period and variability may only fit in a very unusual scenario, featuring a peculiar magnetar, dramatically slowed-down over 2000 years, possibly by a supernova debris disc.


X-rays: stars Stars: neutron X-rays: binaries 


98.38.Mz 97.60.Jd 97.80.Jp 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. [Becker and Aschenbach, 2002]
    Becker, W., Aschenbach, B.: In: Becker, W., Lesch, H., Trümper, J. (eds.) Proc. of the 270. WE-Heraeus Seminar on Neutron Stars, Pulsars, and Supernova Remnants. MPE Report 278, p. 64. Max-Plank-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik, Garching bei München (2002) Google Scholar
  2. [Carter et al., 1997]
    Carter, L.M., Dickel, J.R., Bomans, D.J.: Publ. Astron. Soc. Pac. 109, 990 (1997) ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. [Chatterjee et al., 2000]
    Chatterjee, P., Hernquist, L., Narayan, R.: Astrophys. J. 534, 373 (2000) ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. [Davies and Pringle, 1981]
    Davies, R.E., Pringle, J.E.: Mon. Not. Roy. Astron. Soc. 196, 209 (1981) ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. [Davis, 2001]
    Davis, J.E.: Astrophys. J. 562, 575 (2001) ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. [De Luca et al., 2006]
    De Luca, A., Caraveo, P.A., Mereghetti, S., Tiengo, A., Bignami, G.F.: Science 313, 814 (2006) ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. [Duncan and Thompson, 1992]
    Duncan, R.C., Thompson, C.: Astrophys. J. 392, L9 (1992) ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. [Francischelli et al., 2002]
    Francischelli, G.J., Wijers, R.A.M.J., Brown, G.E.: Astrophys. J. 565, 471 (2002) ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. [Garmire et al., 2000b]
    Garmire, G.P., Pavlov, G., Garmire, A.B., Zavlin, V.E.: IAU Circular 7350 (2000) Google Scholar
  10. [Garmire et al., 2000a]
    Garmire, G.P., Garmire, A.B., Pavlov, G., Burrows, D.N.: Bull. Am. Astron. Soc. 32, 1237 (2002) ADSGoogle Scholar
  11. [Gotthelf and Halpern, 2005]
    Gotthelf, E.V., Halpern, J.P.: Astrophys. J. 632, 1075 (2005) ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. [Gotthelf et al., 1999]
    Gotthelf, E.V., Petre, R., Vasisht, G.: Astrophys. J. 514, L107 (1999) ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. [Ibrahim et al., 2004]
    Ibrahim, A.I., Markwardt, C.B., Swank, J.H.: Astrophys. J. 609, L21 (2004) ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. [Illarionov and Sunyaev, 1975]
    Illarionov, A.F., Sunyaev, R.A.: Astron. Astrophys. 39, 185 (1975) ADSGoogle Scholar
  15. [Kalogera, 1996]
    Kalogera, V.: Astrophys. J. 471, 352 (1996) ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. [Narayan, 2005]
    Narayan, R.: Astrophys. Space Sci. 300, 177 (2005) ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. [Pavlov et al., 2002]
    Pavlov, G.G., Sanwal, D., Garmire, G.P., Zavlin, V.E.: In: Slane, P.O., Gaensler, B.M. (eds.) Neutron Stars in Supernova Remnants. ASP Conference Series, p. 247. ASP, San Francisco (2002) Google Scholar
  18. [Pavlov et al., 2004]
    Pavlov, G.G., Sanwal, D., Teter, M.A.: In: Camilo, F., Gaensler, B.M. (eds.) Young Neutron Stars and their Environments, IAU Symp. No. 218, p. 297. ASP, San Francisco (2004) Google Scholar
  19. [Reynoso et al., 2004]
    Reynoso, E.M., Green, A.J., Johnston, S., et al.: Proc. Astron. Soc. Aust. 21, 82 (2004) ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. [Sanwal et al., 2002]
    Sanwal, D., Garmire, G.P., Garmire, A., Pavlov, G.G., Mignani, R.: Bull. Am. Astron. Soc. 34, 764 (2002) ADSGoogle Scholar
  21. [Strüder et al., 2001]
    Strüder, L., Briel, U., Dennerl, K., et al.: Astron. Astrophys. 365, L18 (2001) ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. [Tiengo et al., 2005]
    Tiengo, A., Mereghetti, S., Turolla, R., et al.: Astron. Astrophys. 437, 997 (2005) ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. [Tuohy and Garmire, 1980]
    Tuohy, I., Garmire, G.: Astrophys. J. 239, L107 (1980) ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. [Turner et al., 2001]
    Turner, M.J.L., Abbey, A., Arnaud, M., et al.: Astron. Astrophys. 365, L27 (2001) ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. [Vink and Kuiper, 2006]
    Vink, J., Kuiper, L.: Mon. Not. Roy. Astron. Soc. 370, L14 (2006) ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. [Wang and Chakrabarty, 2002]
    Wang, Z., Chakrabarty, D.: In: Slane, P.O., Gaensler, B.M. (eds.) Neutron Stars in Supernova Remnants. ASP Conference Series, p. 297. ASP, San Francisco (2002) Google Scholar
  27. [Woods and Thompson, 2006]
    Woods, P.M., Thompson, C.: In: Lewin, W., van der Klis, M. (eds.) Compact Stellar X-ray Sources, p. 547. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (2006) CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. De Luca
    • 1
    Email author
  • P. A. Caraveo
    • 1
  • S. Mereghetti
    • 1
  • A. Tiengo
    • 1
  • G. F. Bignami
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.INAF/IASF MilanoMilanoItaly
  2. 2.Istituto Universitario di Studi Superiori (IUSS) c/o Collegio Giasone del MainoPaviaItaly

Personalised recommendations