On the long term activity of pop. I binary systems containing an X-ray pulsar

  • L. Stella
  • N. E. White
  • R. Rosner
Accretion Disks
Part of the Lecture Notes in Physics book series (LNP, volume 266)


We review the observed properties of the population I binaries containing X-ray pulsars. We point out that many of the pulsing X-ray transients in OB star systems with pulse periods of 1–10 s, when in outburst, lie close to the critical equilibrium point where the corotation radius equals the magnetospheric radius. This suggests that many of these systems usually are dormant because of the centrifugal drag exerted by the pulsar magnetosphere which inhibits accretion and that a small increase in the mass accretion rate can turn them into very luminous transient X-ray sources. If a system lies close to the equilibrium point and it is in an eccentric orbit, luminous outbursts may occur around the time of periastron passage. A correlation between the X-ray luminosity and the pulsar frequency is found and interpreted as the result of centrifugal inhibition of accretion preventing low luminosity, fast spin period magnetised neutron stars accreting.


Orbital Period Neutron Star Stellar Wind Magnetospheric Boundary Corotation Radius 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Stella
    • 1
    • 2
  • N. E. White
    • 1
    • 2
  • R. Rosner
    • 3
  1. 1.EXOSAT Observatory, ESOCDarmstadtGermany
  2. 2.Astrophysics DivisionSpace Science Dept. of ESAUSA
  3. 3.Harvard-Smithsonian Center for AstrophysicsCambridge

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