Soft and hard X-ray dips in the light curves of γ Cassiopeiae
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Type of Work9 pages
Citation of Original PublicationM A Smith, R Lopes de Oliveira, Soft and hard X-ray dips in the light curves of γ Cassiopeiae, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 488, Issue 4, October 2019, Pages 5048–5056, https://doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stz2049
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This article has been accepted for publication in Soft and hard X-ray dips in the light curves of γ Cassiopeiae ©:2019 The Author(s) Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
The available six archival XMM–Newton observations of the anomalous X-ray emitter γ Cas (B0.5 IVe) have been surveyed for the presence of soft X-ray ‘dips’ in X-ray light curves. In addition to discovering such events in the soft band (≤2 keV), we show that sometimes they are accompanied by minor, nearly simultaneous dips in the hard X-ray band. Herein, we investigate how these occurrences can be understood in the ‘magnetic star–disc interaction’ hypothesis proposed in the literature to explain the hard, variable X-ray emission of this Be star. In this scenario, the soft X-ray dips are interpreted as transits by comparatively dense, soft X-ray-absorbing blobs that move across the lines of sight to the surface of the Be star. We find that these blobs have similar properties as the ‘cloudlets’ responsible for migrating subfeatures in UV and optical spectral lines and therefore may be part of a common distribution of co-rotating occulters. The frequencies, amplitudes, and longevities of these dips vary widely. Additionally, the most recent spectra from 2014 July suggest that the ‘warm’ (kT ≈ 0.6–4 keV) plasma sources responsible for some of the soft flux are much more widely spread over the Be star’s surface than the hot plasma sites that dominate the flux at all X-ray energies. We finally call attention to a sudden drop in all X-ray energies of the 2014 light curve of γ Cas and a similar sudden drop in a light curve of the ‘analog’ HD 110432. We speculate that these could be related to appearances of particularly strong soft X-ray dips several hours earlier.