We present the results of continued monitoring of the quiescent neutron star low-mass X-ray binary XTE J1701-462 with Chandra and Swift. A new Chandra observation from 2010 October extends our tracking of the neutron star surface temperature from ≃ 800 days to ≃ 1160 days since the end of an exceptionally luminous 19 month outburst. This observation indicates that the neutron star crust may still be slowly cooling toward thermal equilibrium with the core; another observation further into quiescence is needed to verify this. The shape of the overall cooling curve is consistent with that of a broken power law, although an exponential decay to a constant level cannot be excluded with the present data. To investigate possible low-level activity, we conducted a monitoring campaign of XTE J1701-462 with Swift during 2010 April-October. Short-term flares - presumably arising from episodic low-level accretion - were observed up to a luminosity of ~1 × 1035 erg s-1, ~20 times higher than the normal quiescent level. We conclude that flares of this magnitude are not likely to have significantly affected the equilibrium temperature of the neutron star and are probably not able to have a measurable impact on the cooling curve. However, it is possible that brighter and longer periods of low-level activity have had an appreciable effect on the equilibrium temperature.
Cosmology, Relativity, and Gravity | Stars, Interstellar Medium and the Galaxy
The Variable Quiescent X-Ray Emission of the Transient Neutron Star XTE J1701–462
Joel K. Fridriksson et al. 2011 ApJ 736 162