A luminous Be+white dwarf supersoft source in the wing of the SMC: MAXI J0158-744

K. L. Li, Albert K.H. Kong, P. A. Charles, Ting Ni Lu, E. S. Bartlett, M. J. Coe, V. McBride, A. Rajoelimanana, A. Udalski, N. Masetti, Thomas Franzen

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23 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We present a multi-wavelength analysis of the very fast X-ray transient MAXI J0158-744, which was detected by MAXI/GSC on 2011 November 11. The subsequent exponential decline of the X-ray flux was followed with Swift observations, all of which revealed spectra with low temperatures (∼100 eV), indicating that MAXI J0158-744 is a new Supersoft Source (SSS). The Swift X-ray spectra near maximum show features around 0.8 keV that we interpret as possible absorption from O VIII and emission from O, Fe, and Ne lines. We obtained SAAO and ESO optical spectra of the counterpart early in the outburst and several weeks later. The early spectrum is dominated by strong Balmer and He I emission, together with weaker He II emission. The later spectrum reveals absorption features that indicate a B1/2IIIe spectral type, and all spectral features are at velocities consistent with the Small Magellanic Cloud. At this distance, it is a luminous SSS (>1037 erg s-1) but whose brief peak luminosity of >1039 erg s-1 in the 2-4 keV band makes it the brightest SSS yet seen at "hard" X-rays. We propose that MAXI J0158-744 is a Be-WD binary, and the first example to possibly enter ULX territory. The brief hard X-ray flash could possibly be a result of the interaction of the ejected nova shell with the B star wind in which the white dwarf (WD) is embedded. This makes MAXI J0158-744 only the third Be/WD system in the Magellanic Clouds, but it is by far the most luminous. The properties of MAXI J0158-744 give weight to previous suggestions that SSS in nearby galaxies are associated with early-type stellar systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number99
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume761
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Dec 10

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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