Discovery of the neutron star spin and a possible orbital period from the Be/X-ray binary IGR J05414-6858 in the LMC

R. Sturm, F. Haberl, A. Rau, E.~S. Bartlett, X. -L. Zhang, P. Schady, W. Pietsch, J. Greiner, M.~J. Coe, A. Udalski

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Context. The number of known Be/X-ray binaries in the Large Magellanic Cloud is small compared to the observed population of the Galaxy or the Small Magellanic Cloud. The discovery of a system in outburst provides the rare opportunity to measure its X-ray properties in detail.
Aims. IGR J05414-6858 was discovered in 2010 with INTEGRAL and was found in another outburst with the Swift satellite in 2011. To characterise the system, we analysed the data from a follow-up XMM-Newton target of opportunity observation of the 2011 outburst and investigated the stellar counterpart with photometry and spectroscopy.
Methods. We modelled the X-ray spectra from the EPIC instruments on XMM-Newton and compared them with Swift archival data. We searched for periodicities and variability in the X-ray and optical light curves. The optical counterpart was classified using spectroscopy obtained with ESO’s Faint Object Spectrograph at NTT.
Results. The X-ray spectra as seen in 2011 are relatively hard with a photon index of ~0.3−0.4 and show only low absorption. They deviate significantly from earlier spectra of a probable type-II outburst in 2010. The neutron star spin period of Pspin = 4.4208 s was discovered with EPIC-pn. The I-band light curve revealed a transition from a low to a high state around MJD 54 500. The optical counterpart is classified as B0-1 IIIe and shows Hα emission and a variable near-infrared excess that vanishes during the 2010 outburst. In the optical high state, we found a periodicity at 19.9 days, probably caused by binarity and indicating the orbital period.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberA109
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Early online date14 Jun 2012
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Jun 2012


  • galaxies: individual: Large Magellanic Cloud, stars: emission-line, Be, stars: neutron, X-rays: binaries, Astrophysics - High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena

Cite this

Sturm, R., Haberl, F., Rau, A., Bartlett, E. S., Zhang, X. -L., Schady, P., Pietsch, W., Greiner, J., Coe, M. J., & Udalski, A. (2012). Discovery of the neutron star spin and a possible orbital period from the Be/X-ray binary IGR J05414-6858 in the LMC. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 542, 1-10. [A109].