Document Type



In quasi-persistent neutron star transients, long outbursts cause the neutron star crust to be heated out of thermal equilibrium with the rest of the star. During quiescence, the crust then cools back down. Such crustal cooling has been observed in two quasi-persistent sources: KS 1731-260 and MXB 1659-29. Here we present an additional Chandra observation of MXB 1659-29 in quiescence, which extends the baseline of monitoring to 6.6 yr after the end of the outburst. This new observation strongly suggests that the crust has thermally relaxed, with the temperature remaining consistent over 1000 days. Fitting the temperature cooling curve with an exponential plus constant model we determine an e-folding timescale of 465+/-25 days, with the crust cooling to a constant surface temperature of kTeff=54+/-2 eV (assuming D=10 kpc). From this, we infer a core temperature in the range (3.5-8.3) × 107 K (assuming D=10 kpc), with the uncertainty due to the surface composition. Importantly, we tested two neutron star atmosphere models as well as a blackbody model, and found that the thermal relaxation time of the crust is independent of the chosen model and the assumed distance.


Stars, Interstellar Medium and the Galaxy


NOTICE IN COMPLIANCE WITH PUBLISHER POLICY: ©2008, American Astronomical Society. Available at: doi:10.1086/593703