The First Year of S-CUBED: The Swift Small Magellanic Cloud Survey

J. A. Kennea, M. J. Coe, P. A. Evans, J. Waters, R. E. Jasko

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20 Scopus citations


The Swift Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) Survey, S-CUBED, is a high-cadence shallow X-ray survey of the SMC. The survey consists of 142 tiled pointings covering the optical extent of the SMC, which is performed weekly by NASA's Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory, with an exposure per tile of 60 s. The survey is focused on discovery and monitoring of X-ray outbursts from the large known and unknown population of Be/X-ray binaries (BeXRBs) in the SMC. Given the very low background of Swift's X-ray telescope, even with a short exposure per tile, S-CUBED is typically sensitive to outbursts in the SMC at >1%-2% Eddington luminosity for a typical 1.4 M o neutron star compact object. This sensitivity, combined with the high cadence and the fact that the survey can be performed all year round, makes it a powerful discovery tool for outbursting accreting X-ray pulsars in the SMC. In this paper we describe results from the first year of observations of S-CUBED, which includes the 1SCUBEDX catalog of 265 X-ray sources, 160 of which are not identified with any previously cataloged X-ray source. We report on bulk properties of sources in the 1SCUBEDX catalog. Finally, we focus on results of S-CUBED observations of several interesting sources, which includes discovery of three Type II outbursts from BeXRBs and the detection of Type I outbursts and orbital periods in six BeXRB systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number47
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 20 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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