P. A. Charles - University of Southampton

P. A. Charles
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P. A. Charles
University of Southampton
United Kingdom

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High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena (37)
Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (15)
Astrophysics (11)
Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics (3)
Astrophysics of Galaxies (1)
General Relativity and Quantum Cosmology (1)

Publications Authored By P. A. Charles

Affiliations: 1Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, Tenerife, Spain, 2Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, Tenerife, Spain, 3Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, Tenerife, Spain, 4South African Astronomical Observatory, Cape Town, South Africa, 5INAR-Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma, Italy, 6Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, Tenerife, Spain, 7Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, Tenerife, Spain

The new recurrent X-ray transient MAXI J1957+032 has had four X-ray outbursts within 16 months, all very briefly detected (lasting <5 days). During the most recent event (Sep/Oct 2016), we obtained with SALT 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 deg) 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. Read More

We present phase-resolved spectroscopy of the millisecond X-ray pulsar XTE J1814-338 obtained during its 2003 outburst. The spectra are dominated by high-excitation emission lines of HeII $\lambda$4686, H$\beta$, and the Bowen blend CIII/NIII 4630-50\AA. We exploit the proven Bowen fluorescence technique to establish a complete set of dynamical system parameter constraints using bootstrap Doppler tomography, a first for an accreting millisecond X-ray pulsar binary. Read More

After more than 26 years in quiescence, the black hole transient V404 Cyg went into a luminous outburst in June 2015, and additional activity was detected in late December of the same year. Here, we present an optical spectroscopic follow-up of the December mini-outburst, together with X-ray, optical and radio monitoring that spanned more than a month. Strong flares with gradually increasing intensity are detected in the three spectral ranges during the ~10 days following the Swift trigger. Read More

We combine the decade long photometry of the Be/X-ray binary system A0538-66 provided by the MACHO and OGLE IV projects with high resolution SALT spectroscopy to provide detailed constraints on the orbital parameters and system properties. The ~420d superorbital modulation is present throughout, but has reduced in amplitude in recent years. The well-defined 16. Read More

We present high-resolution, time-resolved optical spectroscopy of the black hole X-ray transient Swift J1753.5-0127. Our optical spectra do not show features that we can associate with the companion star. Read More

We report on radio and X-ray monitoring observations of the BHC Swift J1753.5-0127 taken over a ~10 year period. Presented are daily radio observations at 15 GHz with the AMI-LA and X-ray data from Swift XRT and BAT. Read More

Accretion of matter onto black holes is universally associated with strong radiative feedback and powerful outflows. In particular, black hole transients show outflows whose properties are strongly coupled to those of the accretion flow. This includes X-ray winds of ionized material, expelled from the accretion disc encircling the black hole, and collimated radio jets. Read More

We present observations of rapid (sub-second) optical flux variability in V404 Cyg during its 2015 June outburst. Simultaneous three-band observations with the ULTRACAM fast imager on four nights show steep power spectra dominated by slow variations on ~100-1000s timescales. Near the peak of the outburst on June 26, a dramatic change occurs and additional, persistent sub-second optical flaring appears close in time to giant radio and X-ray flaring. Read More

We present results from the spectral fitting of the candidate black hole X-ray binary Swift J1753.5-0127 in an accretion state previously unseen in this source. We fit the 0. Read More

On 2015 June 15 the burst alert telescope (BAT) on board {\em Swift} detected an X-ray outburst from the black hole transient V404 Cyg. We monitored V404 Cyg for the last 10 years with the 2-m Faulkes Telescope North in three optical bands (V, R, and i$^{'}$). We found that, one week prior to this outburst, the optical flux was 0. Read More

Sco X-1 is the archetypal low mass X-ray binary (LMXB) and the brightest persistent extra-solar X-ray source in the sky. It was included in the K2 Campaign 2 field and was observed continuously for 71 days with 1 minute time resolution. In this paper we report these results and underline the potential of K2 for similar observations of other accreting compact binaries. Read More

We report the results of quasi-simultaneous optical and NIR photometry of the low-mass X-ray binary, 4U 1957+115. Our observations cover B, V, R, I, J, H and K-bands and additional time-series NIR photometry. We measure a spectral energy distribution, which can be modelled using a standard multi-temperature accretion disc, where the disc temperature and radius follow a power-law relation. Read More

We present photometric and spectroscopic observations of the low mass X-ray binary GR Mus (XB 1254-690), and find strong evidence for the presence of a negative superhump with a period that is 2.4+/-0.3% shorter than the orbital. Read More

Within the framework of our program (running since 2004) of identification of hard X-ray INTEGRAL sources through optical spectroscopy, we present the results concerning the nature of 33 high-energy objects. The data were acquired with the use of six telescopes of different sizes and from one on-line archive. The results indicate that the majority of these objects (23 out of 33) are active galactic nuclei (AGNs), whereas 10 are sources in the local Universe with eight of which in the Galaxy and two in the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC). Read More

We have studied the long-term (~ years) temporal variability of the prototype supersoft X-ray source (SSS) CAL 83 in the LMC, using data from the MACHO and OGLE projects. The CAL 83 light curve exhibits dramatic brightness changes of ~1 mag on timescales of ~450 days, and spends typically ~200 days in the optical low state. Combined with archival XMM-Newton X-ray observations these represent the most extensive X-ray/optical study to date of this system, and reveal in much greater detail that the X-ray light curve is anti-correlated with the optical behaviour. Read More

Spectroscopy of the low mass X-ray binary Ser X-1 using the Gran Telescopio Canarias have revealed a ~2 hr periodic variability that is present in the three strongest emission lines. We tentatively interpret this variability as due to orbital motion, making it the first indication of the orbital period of Ser X-1. Together with the fact that the emission lines are remarkably narrow, but still resolved, we show that a main sequence K-dwarf together with a canonical 1. Read More

We report on our search for very-long-term variability (weeks to years) in X-ray binaries (XRBs) in the giant elliptical galaxy M87. We have used archival Chandra imaging observations to characterise the long-term variability of 8 of the brightest members of the XRB population in M87. The peak brightness of some of the sources exceeded the ultra luminous X-ray source (ULX) threshold luminosity of ~ 10^{39} erg/s, and one source could exhibit dips or eclipses. Read More

We have discovered a \sim420d modulation, with associated X-ray dips, in RXTE-ASM/MAXI/Swift-BAT archival light-curves of the short-period (3.2h) black-hole X-ray transient, Swift J1753.5-0127. Read More

We present a 30-day monitoring campaign of the optical counterpart of the bright X-ray transient Swift J1745-26, starting only 19 minutes after the discovery of the source. We observe the system peaking at i' ~17.6 on day 6 (MJD 56192) to then decay at a rate of ~0. Read More

The most recent all-sky surveys performed with the INTEGRAL and SWIFT satellites allowed the detection of more than 1500 sources in hard X-rays above 20 keV. About one quarter of them has no obvious counterpart at other wavelengths and therefore could not be associated with any known class of high-energy emitting objects. Although cross-correlation with catalogues or surveys at other wavelengths (especially soft X-rays) is of invaluable support in pinpointing the putative optical candidates, only accurate optical spectroscopy can reveal the true nature of these sources. Read More

A subset of ultraluminous X-ray sources (those with luminosities < 10^40 erg/s) are thought to be powered by the accretion of gas onto black holes with masses of ~5-20 M_solar, probably via an accretion disc. The X-ray and radio emission are coupled in such Galactic sources, with the radio emission originating in a relativistic jet thought to be launched from the innermost regions near the black hole, with the most powerful emission occurring when the rate of infalling matter approaches a theoretical maximum (the Eddington limit). Only four such maximal sources are known in the Milky Way, and the absorption of soft X-rays in the interstellar medium precludes determining the causal sequence of events that leads to the ejection of the jet. Read More

A Chandra observation of the Large Magellanic Cloud supernova remnant DEM L241 reveals an interior unresolved source which is probably an accretion-powered binary. The optical counterpart is an O5III(f) star making this a High-Mass X-ray Binary (HMXB) with orbital period likely to be of order tens of days. Emission from the remnant interior is thermal and spectral information is used to derive density and mass of the hot material. Read More

We present a multi-wavelength analysis of the very fast X-ray transient MAXI J0158-744, which was detected by MAXI/GSC on 2011 November 11. The subsequent exponential decline of the X-ray flux was followed with Swift observations, all of which revealed spectra with low temperatures (~100eV) indicating that MAXI J0158-744 is a new Supersoft Source (SSS). The Swift X-ray spectra near maximum show features around 0. Read More

Through an optical campaign performed at 4 telescopes located in the northern and the southern hemispheres, plus archival data from two on-line sky surveys, we have obtained optical spectroscopy for 29 counterparts of unclassified or poorly studied hard X-ray emitting objects detected with Swift/BAT and listed in the 39 months Palermo catalogue. All these objects have also observations taken with Swift/XRT or XMM-EPIC which not only allow us to pinpoint their optical counterpart, but also to study their X-ray spectral properties (column density, power law photon index and F2-10 keV flux). We find that 28 sources in our sample are AGN; 7 are classified as type 1 while 21 are of type 2; the remaining object is a galactic cataclysmic variable. Read More

(Abridged) X1822-371 is the prototypical accretion disc corona X-ray source, a low-mass X-ray binary viewed at very high inclination, thereby allowing the disc structure and extended disc coronal regions to be visible. We study the structure of the accretion disc in X1822-371 by modelling the phase-resolved spectra both in optical and X-ray regime. We analyse high time resolution optical ESO/VLT spectra of X1822-371 to study the variability in the emission line profiles. Read More

Phase-resolved spectroscopy of the newly discovered X-ray transient MAXI J0556-332 has revealed the presence of narrow emission lines in the Bowen region that most likely arise on the surface of the mass donor star in this low mass X-ray binary. A period search of the radial velocities of these lines provides two candidate orbital periods (16.43+/-0. Read More

Affiliations: 1South African Astronomical Observatory, 2South African Astronomical Observatory

Long-term ("superorbital") periods or modulations have been detected in a wide variety of both low and high-mass X-ray binaries at X-ray and optical wavelengths. A variety of mechanisms have been proposed to account for the variability properties, such as precessing and/or warped accretion discs, amongst others. The All Sky Monitor on board the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer provides the most extensive (~15 years) and sensitive X-ray archive for studying such behaviour. Read More

We present results from several years of fast optical photometry of 4U0614+091 (V1055 Orionis), a candidate ultracompact X-ray binary most likely consisting of a neutron star and a degenerate secondary. We find evidence for strong accretion-driven variability at all epochs, that manifests itself as red noise. This flickering produces transient peaks in the observed power spectrum in the 15-65 min period range. Read More

We have studied the very long-term temporal properties of the optical emission from Be X-ray binaries (BeX) in the Small Magellanic Cloud over a ~ 16 yr baseline, using light curves from the MACHO and OGLE databases. All the BeX in our sample display superorbital variations, many of them quasi-periodic on timescales of ~ 200-3000 d. These long-term variations are believed to be related to the formation and depletion of the circumstellar disc around the Be star and we compare and contrast their behaviour with that of the LMC's prototypical BeX, A0538-66. Read More

We comment on the recent observation of a 115-day modulation in the X-ray flux of the ultraluminous X-ray source (ULX) NGC 5408 X-1, and in particular, the interpretation of this modulation as the orbital period. We suggest that this modulation may instead be due to a precessing jet, and is thus superorbital in nature. Comparing the properties of this ULX with those of the prototypical microquasar SS 433, we argue that NGC 5408 X-1 is very similar to SS 433: a hyper-accreting stellar mass black hole in a shorter-period binary. Read More

We have conducted a 3-month program of simultaneous optical, soft and hard X-ray monitoring of the LMXB 4U1636-536/V801 Ara using the SMARTS 1.3m telescope and archival RXTE/ASM and Swift/XRT data. 4U1636-536 has been exhibiting a large amplitude, quasi-periodic variability since 2002 when its X-ray flux dramatically declined by roughly an order of magnitude. Read More

(abridged) Hard X-ray surveys performed by the INTEGRAL satellite have discovered a conspicuous fraction (up to 30%) of unidentified objects among the detected sources. Here we continue our identification program by selecting probable optical candidates using positional cross-correlation with soft X-ray, radio, and/or optical archives, and performing optical spectroscopy on them. As a result, we identified or more accurately characterized 44 counterparts of INTEGRAL sources: 32 active galactic nuclei, with redshift 0. Read More

Since its launch on October 2002, the INTEGRAL satellite has revolutionized our knowledge of the hard X-ray sky thanks to its unprecedented imaging capabilities and source detection positional accuracy above 20 keV. Nevertheless, many of the newly-detected sources in the INTEGRAL sky surveys are of unknown nature. However, the combined use of available information at longer wavelengths (mainly soft X-rays and radio) and of optical spectroscopy on the putative counterparts of these new hard X-ray objects allows pinpointing their exact nature. Read More

We present high time-resolution multicolour optical observations of the quiescent X-ray transients GRS1124-684 (=GU Mus) and Cen X-4 (=V822 Cen) obtained with ULTRACAM. Superimposed on the secondary stars' ellipsoidal modulation in both objects are large flares on time-scales of 30-60 min, as well as several distinct rapid flares on time-scales of a few minutes, most of which show further variability and unresolved structure. Not significant quasi-periodic oscillations are observed and the power density spectra of GRS1124-684 and Cen X-4 can be described by a power-law. Read More

Long-term monitoring of Low Mass X-ray Binaries (LMXBs) by the All Sky Monitor on board the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer now covers ~13 yrs and shows that certain LMXB types display very long-term (~several to tens of years) quasi-periodic modulations. These timescales are much longer than any "super-orbital" periods reported hitherto and likely have a different origin. We suggest here that they are due to long-term variations in the mass-transfer rate from the donor, which are a consequence of solar-like magnetic cycles that lead to orbital period changes (as proposed by Richman, Applegate & Patterson 1994 for similar long-term variations in CVs). Read More

Results of observations of the Galactic bulge X-ray source GX 9+9 by the All-Sky Monitor (ASM) and Proportional Counter Array (PCA) onboard the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer are presented. The ASM results show that the 4.19 hour X-ray periodicity first reported by Hertz and Wood in 1987 was weak or not detected for most of the mission prior to late 2004, but then became strong and remained strong for approximately 2 years after which it weakened considerably. Read More

Affiliations: 1South African Astronomical Observatory, 2South African Astronomical Observatory, 3South African Astronomical Observatory

Long-term monitoring of the recently discovered X-ray transient, IGR J17098-3628, by the All Sky Monitor on board the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer, has shown that it displays a long term (~163d) quasi-periodic modulation in the data spanning its "active" state (i.e. approximately MJD 53450-54200). Read More

We present VLT intermediate resolution spectroscopy of UY Vol, the optical counterpart of the LMXB X-ray burster EXO 0748-676. By using Doppler tomography we detect narrow components within the broad He II 4542 A, 4686 A and 5412 A emission lines. The phase, velocity and narrowness of these lines are consistent with their arising from the irradiated hemisphere of the donor star, as has been observed in a number of LMXBs. Read More

aims: We obtained phase-resolved spectroscopy of the accreting millisecond X-ray pulsar SAX J1808.4-3658 during its outburst in 2008 to find a signature of the donor star, constrain its radial velocity semi-amplitude (K_2), and derive estimates on the pulsar mass. methods: Using Doppler images of the Bowen region we find a significant (>8sigma) compact spot at a position where the donor star is expected. Read More

Affiliations: 1Cambridge IoA, 2Harvard CfA, 3Harvard CfA, 4SAAO
Category: Astrophysics

Context. In quiescence, the proposed optical counterpart to the neutron star low mass X-ray binary 4U 2129+47 (V1727 Cyg) shows a spectrum consistent with a late F-type subgiant and no radial velocity variations on the 5.24 hour binary period. Read More

Using 8 telescopes in the northern and southern hemispheres, plus archival data from two on-line sky surveys, we performed a systematic optical spectroscopic study of 39 putative counterparts of unidentified or poorly studied INTEGRAL sources in order to determine or at least better assess their nature. This was implemented within the framework of our campaign to reveal the nature of newly-discovered and/or unidentified sources detected by INTEGRAL. Our results show that 29 of these objects are active galactic nuclei (13 of which are of Seyfert 1 type, 15 are Seyfert 2 galaxies and one is possibly a BL Lac object) with redshifts between 0. Read More

In this paper we give a review of the Bowen fluorescence survey, showing that narrow emission lines (mainly NIII and CIII lines between 4630 and 4660 A) appear to be universally present in the Bowen blend of optically bright low mass X-ray binaries. These narrow lines are attributed to reprocessing in the companion star giving the first estimates of K_2, and thereby providing the first constraints on their system parameters. We will give an overview of the constraints on the masses of the compact objects and briefly highlight the most important results of the survey. Read More

We present simultaneous high time resolution (1-10 Hz) X-ray and optical observations of the persistent LMXBs Sco X-1 and V801 Ara(=4U 1636-536). In the case of Sco X-1 we find that the Bowen/HeII emission lags the X-ray light-curves with a light travel time of ~11-16s which is consistent with reprocessing in the donor star. We also present the detection of three correlated X-ray/optical bursts in V801 ara. Read More

Affiliations: 1University of Southampton, UK, 2University of Southampton, UK, 3AMNH, USA, 4AMNH, USA, 5STScI, USA, 6SAAO, South Africa, 7University of Helsinki, Finland
Category: Astrophysics

We have obtained deep far- (FUV) and near-ultraviolet (NUV) images of the inner region of the dense globular cluster M15 with the Advanced Camera for Surveys on board the Hubble Space Telescope. The FUV-NUV colour-magnitude diagram shows a well defined track of horizontal branch stars, as well as a trail of blue stragglers and white dwarfs. The main sequence turn-off is clearly visible at FUV~23. Read More

Two nights of phase-resolved medium resolution VLT spectroscopy of the extra-galactic low mass X-ray binary LMC X-2 have revealed a 0.32+/-0.02 day spectroscopic period in the radial velocity curve of the HeII lambda4686 emission line that we interpret as the orbital period. Read More

We present simultaneous high-resolution optical spectroscopy and X-ray data of the X-ray binary system GR Mus (XB1254-690), obtained over a full range of orbital phases. The X-ray observations are used to re-establish the orbital ephemeris for this source. The optical data includes the first spectroscopic detection of the donor star in this system, through the use of the Doppler Tomography technique on the Bowen fluorescence blend (~4630-4650 A). Read More

Phase-resolved medium resolution VLT spectroscopy of the low mass X-ray binary GX9+9 has revealed narrow CIII emission lines that move in phase relative to our new estimate of the ephemeris, and show a velocity amplitude of 230+/-35 km/s. We identify the origin of these lines as coming from the surface of the donor star, thereby providing the first estimate of the mass function of f(M_1)>=0.22M_sun. Read More

We present simultaneous X-ray (RXTE) and optical (ULTRACAM) narrow band (Bowen blend/HeII and nearby continuum) observations of Sco X-1 at 2-10 Hz time resolution. We find that the Bowen/HeII emission lags the X-ray light-curves with a light travel time of ~11-16s which is consistent with reprocessing in the companion star. The echo from the donor is detected at orbital phase ~0. Read More

We here report on the multiwavelength study which led us to the identification of X-ray source IGR J16194-2810 as a new Symbiotic X-ray Binary (SyXB), that is, a rare type of Low Mass X-ray Binary (LMXB) composed of a M-type giant and a compact object. Using the accurate X-ray position allowed by Swift/XRT data, we pinpointed the optical counterpart, a M2 III star. Besides, the combined use of the spectral information afforded by XRT and INTEGRAL/IBIS shows that the 0. Read More