The new recurrent X-ray transient MAXI J1957+032 has had four X-ray outbursts within 16 months, all very briefly detected (lasting <5 d). During the most recent event (2016 September/October), we obtained with the Southern African Large Telescope the first optical spectrum of the transient counterpart, showing the classic blue continuum of an X-ray irradiated disc in an LMXB and no other features. At high Galactic latitude below the plane (-13°) reddening is low but there is no quiescent counterpart visible on any of the existing sky surveys, nor any other known X-ray source in the region. Swift monitoring of three of the four events is presented, showing rapidly fading X-ray outbursts together with significant UVOT detections in the UV (W1,M2,W2), U and B bands. The optical properties are most like those of the short-period LMXBs, which, combined with the softening witnessed during the decay to quiescence would place the system at d < 13 kpc. The short duration and short recurrence time of the outbursts are reminiscent of the accreting millisecond X-ray pulsars, which exhibit peak luminosities of ∼ 1 per cent LEdd. Assuming this peak luminosity would place MAXI J1957+032 at a distance of d ∼ 5-6 kpc.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
- Pub Date:
- June 2017
- accretion discs;
- X-rays: binaries;
- Astrophysics - High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena
- 7 pages, 4 figures, 1 table. Accepted for publication in MNRAS