Monitoring observations of SMC X-1's excursions (MOOSE)-I. Programme description and initial high state spectral results

Kristen C. Dage, McKinley Brumback, Joey Neilsen, Chin Ping Hu, Diego Altamirano, Arash Bahramian, Philip A. Charles, William I. Clarkson, Daryl Haggard, Ryan C. Hickox, Jamie Kennea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


SMC X-1 has exhibited three superorbital period excursions since the onset of X-ray monitoring beginning with the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer's launch in 1995. TheNeutron star Interior Composition Explorer has recently probed a fourth observed excursion beginning in 2021 with our programme monitoring observations of SMC X-1's excursions (moose). These sensitive new moose data probe different superorbital periods and phases within them. Spectral fits to the high-state continuum during 2021 April to 2022 January show that the intrinsic spectral shapes are characterized by a soft (kT ∼0.19 keV) disc component and a hard (Γ ∼0.7) power-law tail. When the 2021-2022 NICER observations, taken during an excursion, are compared to 2016 XMM-Newton observations (outside of an excursion), we find little evidence for intrinsic spectral variability across the high states, but find evidence for a >3σ change in the absorption, although we caution that there may be calibration differences between the two instruments. Thus, over different lengths of superorbital periods, we see little evidence for intrinsic spectral changes in the high state. Upcoming studies of the pulse profiles may shed light on the mechanism behind the excursions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5457-5464
Number of pages8
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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