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Radius Constraints from Reflection Modeling of Cygnus X-2 with NuSTAR and NICER

Abstract : We present a spectral analysis of NuSTAR and NICER observations of the luminous, persistently accreting neutron star (NS) low-mass X-ray binary Cygnus X-2. The data were divided into different branches that the source traces out on the Z-track of the X-ray color-color diagram; namely, the horizontal branch, the normal branch, and the vertex between the two. The X-ray continuum spectrum was modeled in two different ways that produced comparable quality fits. The spectra showed clear evidence of a reflection component in the form of a broadened Fe K line, as well as a lower-energy emission feature near 1 keV likely due to an ionized plasma located far from the innermost accretion disk. We account for the reflection spectrum with two independent models (RELXILLNS and RDBLUR*RFXCONV). The inferred inclination is in agreement with earlier estimates from optical observations of ellipsoidal lightcurve modeling (RELXILLNS: i = 67° ± 4°; RDBLUR*RFXCONV: i = 60° ± 10°). The inner disk radius remains close to the NS (R in ≤ 1.15 R ISCO) regardless of the source position along the Z-track or how the 1 keV feature is modeled. Given the optically determined NS mass of 1.71 ± 0.21 M , this corresponds to a conservative upper limit of R in ≤ 19.5 km for M = 1.92 M or R in ≤ 15.3 km for M = 1.5 M . We compare these radius constraints to those obtained from NS gravitational wave merger events and recent NICER pulsar lightcurve modeling measurements.
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Submitted on : Friday, May 20, 2022 - 3:04:21 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, June 1, 2022 - 3:55:33 AM

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R. M. Ludlam, E. M. Cackett, J. A. García, J. M. Miller, A. L. Stevens, et al.. Radius Constraints from Reflection Modeling of Cygnus X-2 with NuSTAR and NICER. The Astrophysical Journal, 2022, 927, ⟨10.3847/1538-4357/ac5028⟩. ⟨insu-03672046⟩

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