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A search for new Galactic magnetars in archival Chandra and XMM-Newton observations

Muno, M. P. and Gaensler, B. M. and Nechita, A. and Miller, J. M. and Slane, P. O. (2008) A search for new Galactic magnetars in archival Chandra and XMM-Newton observations. Astrophysical Journal, 680 (1). pp. 639-653. ISSN 0004-637X.

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We present constraints on the number of Galactic magnetars, which we have established by searching for sources with periodic variability in 506 archival Chandra observations and 441 archival XMM-Newton observations of the Galactic plane (|b| < 5°). Our search revealed four sources with periodic variability on timescales of 200-5000 s, all of which are probably accreting white dwarfs. We identify 7 of 12 known Galactic magnetars, but find no new examples with periods between 5 and 20 s. We convert this nondetection into limits on the total number of Galactic magnetars by computing the fraction of the young Galactic stellar population that our survey covered. We find that easily detectable magnetars, modeled after persistent anomalous X-ray pulsars (e.g., with L_X = 10^(35) ergs s^−1 [0.5-10.0 keV] and A_(rms) = 12% ), could have been identified in ≈5% of the Galactic spiral arms by mass. If we assume that three previously known examples randomly fall within our survey, then there are 59^(+ 92)_(−32) in the Galaxy. Barely detectable magnetars (L_X = 3 × 10^(33) ergs s^−1 and A_(rms) = 15% ) could have been identified throughout ≈0.4% of the spiral arms. The lack of new examples implies that <540 exist in the Galaxy (90% confidence). Similar constraints are found by considering the detectability of transient magnetars in outburst. For assumed lifetimes of 10^4 yr, the birth rate of magnetars is between 0.003 and 0.06 yr^−1. Therefore, the birth rate of magnetars is at least 10% of that for normal radio pulsars, and could exceed that value, unless transient magnetars are active for greater than or similar to 10^5 yr.

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Gaensler, B. M.0000-0002-3382-9558
Additional Information:© 2008 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2007 September 6, accepted for publication 2007 November 16. We thank E. Gotthelf for sharing the results of his observations of AX J1853.30128. This work made use of data obtained from the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), provided by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
Subject Keywords:stars: neutron; stars: statistics; X-rays: stars
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20090524-202255581
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:14291
Deposited By: Joy Painter
Deposited On:02 Jun 2009 17:42
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 00:48

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