We report on the quiescent spectrum measured with Chandra ACIS-S of the transient, type I, X-ray-bursting neutron star Aql X-1, immediately following an accretion outburst. The neutron star radius, assuming a pure hydrogen atmosphere and a hard power-law spectrum, is R∞ = 13.4+5-4(d/5 kpc) km. Based on the historical outburst record of the Rossi X-Ray Timing Explorer All-Sky Monitor, the quiescent luminosity is consistent with that predicted by Brown, Bildsten, and Rutledge from deep crustal heating, lending support to this theory for providing a minimum quiescent luminosity of transient neutron stars. While not required by the data, the hard power-law component can account for 18% ± 8% of the 0.5-10 keV thermal flux. Short-timescale intensity variability during this observation is less than 15% rms (3 σ; 0.0001-1 Hz, 0.2-8 keV). Comparison between the Chandra spectrum and three X-ray spectral observations made between 1992 October and 1996 October find all spectra consistent with a pure H atmosphere, but with temperatures ranging from 145 to 168 eV, spanning a factor of 1.87 ± 0.21 in observed flux. The source of variability in the quiescent luminosity on long timescales (greater than years) remains a puzzle. If from accretion, then it remains to be explained why the quiescent accretion rate provides a luminosity so nearly equal to that from deep crustal heating.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science