A magnetar-powered X-ray transient as the aftermath of a binary neutron-star merger

10 Apr 2019  ·  Xue Y. Q., Zheng X. C., Li Y., Brandt W. N., Zhang B., Luo B., Zhang B. B., Bauer F. E., Sun H., Lehmer B. D., Wu X. F., Yang G., Kong X., Li J. Y., Sun M. Y., Wang J. -X., Vito F. ·

Neutron star-neutron star mergers are known to be associated with short gamma-ray bursts. If the neutron star equation of state is sufficiently stiff, at least some of such mergers will leave behind a supramassive or even a stable neutron star that spins rapidly with a strong magnetic field (i.e., a magnetar)... Such a magnetar signature may have been observed as the X-ray plateau following a good fraction (up to 50%) of short gamma-ray bursts, and it has been expected that one may observe short gamma-ray burst-less X-ray transients powered by double neutron star mergers. A fast X-ray transient (CDF-S XT1) was recently found to be associated with a faint host galaxy whose redshift is unknown. Its X-ray and host-galaxy properties allow several possibleexplanations including a short gamma-ray burst seen off axis, a low-luminosity gamma-ray burst at high redshift, or a tidal disruption event involving an intermediate mass black hole and a white dwarf. Here we report a second X-ray transient, CDF-S XT2, that is associated with a galaxy at redshift z = 0.738. The light curve is fully consistent with being powered by a millisecond magnetar. More intriguingly, CDF-S XT2 lies in the outskirts of its star-forming host galaxy with a moderate offset from the galaxy center, as short bursts often do. The estimated event rate density of similar X-ray transients, when corrected to the local value, is consistent with the double neutron star merger rate density inferred from the detection of GW170817. read more

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High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena