S. G. Laycock - Southampton University

S. G. Laycock
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S. G. Laycock
Southampton University
United Kingdom

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Astrophysics (26)
High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena (20)
Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (2)
Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (2)
Physics - Data Analysis; Statistics and Probability (1)
Physics - Biological Physics (1)

Publications Authored By S. G. Laycock

We have compiled a comprehensive library of all X-ray observations of Magellanic pulsars carried out by {\it XMM-Newton}, {\it Chandra}, and {\it RXTE} in the period 1997-2014. In this work, we use the data from 53 high-mass Be/X-ray binaries in the Small Magellanic Cloud to demonstrate that the distribution of spin-period derivatives vs. spin periods of spinning-down pulsars is not at all different than that of the accreting spinning-up pulsars. Read More

The recent discoveries of pulsed X-ray emission from three ultraluminous X-ray (ULX) sources have finally enabled us to recognize a subclass within the ULX class: the great pretenders, neutron stars (NSs) that appear to emit X-ray radiation at isotropic luminosities $L_X = 7\times 10^{39}$~erg~s$^{-1}-1\times 10^{41}$~erg~s$^{-1}$ only because their emissions are strongly beamed toward our direction and our sight lines are offset by only a few degrees from their magnetic-dipole axes. The three known pretenders appear to be stronger emitters than the presumed black holes of the ULX class, such as Holmberg II \& IX X-1, IC10 X-1, and NGC300 X-1. For these three NSs, we have adopted a single reasonable assumption, that their brightest observed outbursts unfold at the Eddington rate, and we have calculated both their propeller states and their surface magnetic-field magnitudes. Read More

We have collected and analyzed the complete archive of {\itshape XMM-Newton\} (116), {\itshape Chandra\} (151), and {\itshape RXTE\} (952) observations of the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), spanning 1997-2014. The resulting observational library provides a comprehensive view of the physical, temporal and statistical properties of the SMC pulsar population across the luminosity range of $L_X= 10^{31.2}$--$10^{38}$~erg~s$^{-1}$. Read More

Using hundreds of XMM-Newton and Chandra archival observations and nearly a thousand RXTE observations, we have generated a comprehensive library of the known pulsars in the Small and Large Magellanic Clouds (SMC, LMC). The pulsars are detected multiple times across the full parameter spaces of X-ray luminosity ($L_X= 10^{31-38}$~erg/s) and spin period ( P$<$1s -- P$>$1000s) and the library enables time-domain studies at a range of energy scales. The high time-resolution and sensitivity of the EPIC cameras are complemented by the angular resolution of Chandra and the regular monitoring of RXTE. Read More

The 80 high-mass X-ray binary (HMXB) pulsars that are known to reside in the Magellanic Clouds (MCs) have been observed by the XMM-Newton and Chandra X-ray telescopes on a regular basis for 15 years, and the XMM-Newton and Chandra archives contain nearly complete information about the duty cycles of the sources with spin periods P_S < 100 s. We have rerprocessed the archival data from both observatories and we combined the output products with all the published observations of 31 MC pulsars with P_S < 100 s in an attempt to investigate the faintest X-ray emission states of these objects that occur when accretion to the polar caps proceeds at the smallest possible rates. These states determine the so-called propeller lines of the accreting pulsars and yield information about the magnitudes of their surface magnetic fields. Read More

In time domain astronomy, recurrent transients present a special problem: how to infer total populations from limited observations. Monitoring observations may give a biassed view of the underlying population due to limitations on observing time, visibility and instrumental sensitivity. A similar problem exists in the life sciences, where animal populations (such as migratory birds) or disease prevalence, must be estimated from sparse and incomplete data. Read More

In young starburst galaxies, the X-ray population is expected to be dominated by the relics of the most massive and short-lived stars, black-hole and neutron-star high mass X-ray binaries (XRBs). In the closest such galaxy, IC 10, we have made a multi-wavelength census of these objects. Employing a novel statistical correlation technique, we have matched our list of 110 X-ray point sources, derived from a decade of Chandra observations, against published photometric data. Read More

We present simultaneous, multi-wavelength observations of the Small Magellanic Cloud Be/XRB IGR J01217-7257 (=SXP 2.16) during outbursts in 2014, 2015 and 2016. We also present the results of RXTE observations of the Small Magellanic Cloud during which the source was initially discovered with a periodicity of 2. Read More

We have monitored the Cassiopeia dwarf galaxy (IC 10) in a series of 10 Chandra ACIS-S observations to capture its variable and transient X-ray source population, which is expected to be dominated by High Mass X-ray Binaries (HMXBs). We present a sample of 21 X-ray sources that are variable between observations at the 3 sigma level, from a catalog of 110 unique point sources. We find 4 transients (flux variability ratio greater than 10) and a further 8 objects with ratio > 5. Read More

{\it NuSTAR} has detected pulsations from the ultraluminous X-ray source X-2 in M82 and archival {\it Chandra} observations have given us a good idea of its duty cycle. The newly discovered pulsar exhibited at least 4 super-Eddington outbursts in the past 15 years but, in its lowest-power state, it radiates just below the Eddington limit and its properties appear to be typical of high-mass X-ray binaries. M82 X-2 has been described as a common neutron star with a 1~TG magnetic field that occasionally accretes above the Eddington rate and as a magnetar-like pulsar with a 10-100~TG magnetic field that reaches above the quantum limit. Read More

The spins of stellar-mass black holes (BHs) and the power outputs of their jets are measurable quantities. Unfortunately, the currently employed methods do not agree and the results are controversial. Two major issues concern the measurements of BH spin and beam (jet) power. Read More

Located in the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), SXP214 is an X-ray pulsar in a high mass X-ray binary system with a Be-star companion. A recent survey of the SMC under a Chandra X-ray Visionary program found the source in a transition when the X-ray flux was on a steady rise. The Lomb-Scargle periodogram revealed a pulse period of 211. Read More

The compact X-ray source in the eclipsing X-ray binary IC 10 X-1 has reigned for years as ostensibly the most massive stellar-mass black hole, with a mass estimated to be about twice that of its closest rival. However, striking results presented recently by Laycock et al. reveal that the mass estimate, based on emission-line velocities, is unreliable and that the mass of the X-ray source is essentially unconstrained. Read More

The relative phasing of the X-ray eclipse ephemeris and optical radial velocity (RV) curve for the X-ray binary IC10 X-1 suggests the He[$\lambda$4686] emission-line originates in a shadowed sector of the stellar wind that avoids ionization by X-rays from the compact object. The line attains maximum blueshift when the wind is directly toward us at mid X-ray eclipse, as is also seen in Cygnus X-3. If the RV curve is unrelated to stellar motion, evidence for a massive black hole evaporates because the mass function of the binary is unknown. Read More

Pulsations were recently detected from the ultraluminous X-ray source X-2 in M82. The newly discovered pulsar has been described as a common neutron star with a 1 TG magnetic field that accretes above the Eddington rate and as a magnetar-like pulsar with a 100 TG magnetic field that is above the quantum limit. We show here that this X-ray source is not exotic in any sense. Read More

The massive black hole + Wolf-Rayet binary IC10 X-1 was observed in a series of 10 Chandra and 2 XMM-Newton observations spanning 2003-2012, showing consistent variability around 7 x10^37 erg/s, with a spectral hardening event in 2009. We phase-connected the entire light-curve by folding the photon arrival times on a series of trial periods spanning the known orbital period and its uncertainty, refining the X-ray period to P = 1.45175(1)d. Read More

We report the discovery of a large amplitude (factor of $\sim$100) X-ray transient (IC 10 X-2, CXOU J002020.99+591758.6) in the nearby dwarf starburst galaxy IC10 during our Chandra monitoring project. Read More

Affiliations: 1Utrecht University, 2U. of Arizona, 3Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 4Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 5Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 6UMass-Lowell, 7Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

The Chandra Multiwavelength Plane (ChaMPlane) Survey aims to constrain the Galactic population of mainly accretion-powered, but also coronal, low-luminosity X-ray sources (Lx <~ 1e33 erg/s). To investigate the X-ray source content in the plane at fluxes Fx >~ 3e-14 erg/s/cm^2, we study 21 of the brightest ChaMPlane sources, viz. those with >250 net counts (0. Read More

Digital Access to a Sky Century @ Harvard (DASCH) is a project to digitize the collection of approximately 525,000 astronomical plates held at the Harvard College Observatory. This paper presents an overview of the DASCH data processing pipeline, with special emphasis on the processing of multiple-exposure plates. Such plates extended the dynamic range of photograph emulsions and improved photometric accuracy by minimizing variations in plate development procedures. Read More

We describe the process implemented in the DASCH pipeline which applies a reliable astrometric correction to each scanned plate. Our first blind astrometric fit resolves the pointing, scale and orientation of the plate in the sky using astrometry. net code. Read More

We report results of initial work done on selected candidate Cepheids to be observed with the Kepler space telescope. Prior to the launch 40 candidates were selected from previous surveys and databases. The analysis of the first 322 days of Kepler photometry, and recent ground-based follow-up multicolour photometry and spectroscopy allowed us to confirm that one of these stars, V1154 Cyg (KIC 7548061), is indeed a 4. Read More

Here we present the discovery of three unusual long-term variables found in the Digital Access to a Sky Century at Harvard (DASCH) project, with ~1 magnitude variations in their lightcurves on ~10-100 yr timescales. They are all spectroscopically identified as K2III giant stars, probably in the thick disk. Their lightcurves do not match any previously measured for known types of variable stars, or any theoretical model reported for red giants, and instead suggest a new dust formation mechanism or the first direct observation of "short" timescale evolution-driven variability. Read More

(Abridged) We present the LogN-LogS and spatial distributions of X-ray point sources in seven Galactic Bulge (GB) fields within 4 deg from the Galactic Center (GC). We compare the properties of 1159 X-ray point sources discovered in our deep (100 ks) Chandra observations of three low extinction Window fields near the GC with the X-ray sources in the other GB fields centered around Sgr B2, Sgr C, the Arches Cluster and Sgr A* using Chandra archival data. To reduce the systematic errors induced by the uncertain X-ray spectra of the sources coupled with field-and-distance dependent extinction, we classify the X-ray sources using quantile analysis and estimate their fluxes accordingly. Read More

(Abridged) We have discovered an intermediate polar (IP) in the 100 ks Chandra observation of Baade's Window (BW), a low extinction region at ~ 4 deg south of the Galactic Center. The source exhibits large X-ray modulations at a period of 1028.4 s in the 0. Read More


Digital Access to a Sky Century @ Harvard (DASCH) is a project to digitize the collection of ~500,000 glass photographic plates held at Harvard College Observatory. The collection spans the time period from 1880 to 1985, during which time every point on the sky has been observed approximately 500 to 1000 times. In this paper we describe the results of the DASCH commissioning run, during which we developed the data-reduction pipeline and fine-tuned the digitzer's performance and operation. Read More

We report the discovery of a flaring X-ray source with an optical counterpart with Halpha emission and red-excess, in the direction of the SMC. A 100 ksec X-ray observation with Chandra detected a flare lasting 6 ksec in the source CXO J005428.9-723107. Read More

We present the results of a pair of 100 ksec Chandra observations in the Small Magellanic Cloud to survey high mass X-ray binaries (HMXBs), stars and LMXBs/CVs down to Lx = 4.3 x 10^32 erg/s The two SMC Deep Fields are located in the most active star forming region of the bar, with Deep Field-1 positioned at the most pulsar-rich location identified from previous surveys. Two new pulsars were discovered in outburst: CXOU J004929. Read More

We have carried out optical and X-ray spectral analyses on a sample of 136 candidate optical counterparts of X-ray sources found in five Galactic-bulge fields included in our Chandra Multi-wavelength Plane Survey. We use a combination of optical spectral fitting and quantile X-ray analysis to obtain the hydrogen column density towards each object, and a three-dimensional dust model of the Galaxy to estimate the most probable distance in each case. We present the discovery of a population of stellar coronal emission sources, likely consisting of pre-main sequence, young main sequence and main sequence stars, as well as a component of active binaries of RS CVn or BY Dra type. Read More

Affiliations: 1UT Austin, 2Harvard-Smithsonian CfA, 3Harvard-Smithsonian CfA, 4Gemini Observatory, 5Harvard-Smithsonian CfA, 6Harvard-Smithsonian CfA
Category: Astrophysics

The Chandra Multiwavelength Plane (ChaMPlane) Survey is a comprehensive effort to constrain the population of accretion-powered and coronal low-luminosity X-ray sources (L_X < 10^33 erg s^-1) in the Galaxy. ChaMPlane incorporates X-ray, optical, and infrared observations of fields in the Galactic Plane imaged with Chandra in the past six years. We present the results of a population study of the brightest X-ray sources in ChaMPlane. Read More

We have monitored 41 Be/X-ray binary systems in the Small Magellanic Cloud over ~9 years using PCA-RXTE data from a weekly survey program. The resulting light curves were analysed in search of orbital modulations with the result that 10 known orbital ephemerides were confirmed and refined, while 10 new ones where determined. A large number of X-ray orbital profiles are presented for the first time, showing similar characteristics over a wide range of orbital periods. Read More

Affiliations: 1University of Southampton, 2University of Southampton, 3University of Southampton, 4University of Southampton, 5CfA, 6University of Southampton, 7USRA/GSFC, 8CfA, 9SAAO
Category: Astrophysics

We have detected 523 sources in a survey of the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) Wing with Chandra. By cross-correlating the X-ray data with optical and near-infrared catalogues we have found 300 matches. Using a technique that combines X-ray colours and X-ray to optical flux ratios we have been able to assign preliminary classifications to 265 of the objects. Read More

Affiliations: 1University of Southampton, 2University of Southampton, 3University of Southampton, 4University of Southampton, 5CfA, 6University of Southampton, 7USRA/GSFC, 8CfA, 9Warsaw University Observatory, 10SAAO
Category: Astrophysics

We investigate the X-ray and optical properties of a sample of X-ray bright sources from the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) Wing Survey. We have detected two new pulsars with pulse periods of 65.8 s (CXOU J010712. Read More

A machine capable of digitizing two 8 inch by 10 inch (203 mm by 254 mm) glass astrophotographic plates or a single 14 inch by 17 inch (356 mm by 432 mm) plate at a resolution of 11 microns per pixel or 2309 dots per inch (dpi) in 92 seconds is described. The purpose of the machine is to digitize the \~500,000 plate collection of the Harvard College Observatory in a five year time frame. The digitization must meet the requirements for scientific work in astrometry, photometry, and archival preservation of the plates. Read More

Affiliations: 1Harvard-Smithsonian CfA, 2Harvard-Smithsonian CfA, 3Harvard-Smithsonian CfA, 4Harvard-Smithsonian CfA, 5Harvard-Smithsonian CfA, 6Harvard-Smithsonian CfA, 7University of Texas, 8Indiana University, 9Indiana University, 10UCLA, 11Harvard-Smithsonian CfA, 12University of California Observatories/Lick Observatory, 13University of California Observatories/Lick Observatory
Category: Astrophysics

We have searched the OGLE-II archive for candidate counterparts of X-ray sources detected in two low-extinction windows included in our Galactic bulge Chandra/HST survey. We find that a significant number - i.e. Read More

We introduce the Chandra Multiwavelength Plane (ChaMPlane) Survey, designed to measure or constrain the populations of low-luminosity (Lx > ~10^31 erg/s) accreting white dwarfs, neutron stars and stellar mass black holes in the Galactic Plane and Bulge. ChaMPlane incorporates two surveys, X-ray (Chandra) and optical (NOAO 4m-Mosaic imaging), and a followup spectroscopy and IR identification program. The survey has now extended through the first 6 years of Chandra data using serendipitous sources detected in 105 distinct ACIS-I and -S fields observed in 154 pointings and covered by 65 deep Mosaic images in V, R, I, and H-alpha. Read More

We describe the X-ray analysis procedure of the on-going Chandra Multiwavelength Plane (ChaMPlane) survey and report the initial results from the analysis of 15 selected anti-Galactic center observations (90 deg < l < 270 deg). We describe the X-ray analysis procedures for ChaMPlane using custom-developed analysis tools appropriate for Galactic sources but also of general use: optimum photometry in crowded fields using advanced techniques for overlapping sources, rigorous astrometry and 95% error circles for combining X-ray images or matching to optical/IR images, and application of quantile analysis for spectral analysis of faint sources. We apply these techniques to 15 anti-Galactic center observations (of 14 distinct fields) in which we have detected 921 X-ray point sources. Read More

We searched for infrared counterparts to the cluster of X-ray point sources discovered by Chandra in the Galactic Center Region (GCR). While the sources could be white dwarfs, neutron stars, or black holes accreting from stellar companions, their X-ray properties are consistent with magnetic Cataclysmic Variables, or High Mass X-ray Binaries (HMXB) at low accretion-rates. A direct way to decide between these possibilities and hence between alternative formation scenarios is to measure or constrain the luminosity distribution of the companions. Read More

The ChaMPlane survey to identify and analyze the serendipitous X-ray sources in deep Galactic plane fields incorporates the ChaMPlane Optical Survey, which is one of NOAO's Long-term Survey Programs. We started this optical imaging survey in March 2000 and completed it in June 2005. Using the NOAO 4-m telescopes with the Mosaic cameras at CTIO and KPNO, deep images of the ChaMPlane fields are obtained in V, R, I and H-alpha bands. Read More

A probable binary period has been detected in the optical counterpart to the X-ray source CXOU J005455.6-724510 = RX J0054.9-7245 = AXJ0054. Read More

Three new X-ray pulsars have been detected in the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) and the positions of two others have been determined, with archive Chandra data. A series of five observations of the SMC took place between May and October 2002. Analysis of these data has revealed three previously unknown X-ray pulsars at pulse periods of 34, 503 and 138 seconds. Read More

Affiliations: 1CfA, 2GSFC, USRA, 3U. Southampton, 4GSFC, 5GSFC, U. Maryland, 6GSFC
Category: Astrophysics

Results of a 4 year monitoring campaign of the SMC using the Rossi X-ray timing Explorer (RXTE) are presented. This large dataset makes possible detailed investigation of a significant sample of SMC X-ray binaries. 8 new X-ray pulsars were discovered and a total of 20 different systems were detected. Read More

Affiliations: 1University College, Cork, Ireland, 2University College, Cork, Ireland, 3Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 4Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 5Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 6Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Category: Astrophysics

We report on the analysis of new and previously published MMT optical spectra of the black hole binary XTE J1118+480 during the decline from the 2000 outburst to true quiescence. From cross-correlation with template stars, we measure the radial velocity of the secondary to derive a new spectroscopic ephemeris. The observations acquired during approach to quiescence confirm the earlier reported modulation in the centroid of the double-peaked Halpha emission line. Read More

Regular monitoring of the SMC with RXTE has revealed a huge number of X-ray pulsars. Together with discoveries from other satellites at least 45 SMC pulsars are now known. One of these sources, a pulsar with a period of approximately 7. Read More

A significant number of X-ray binaries are now known to exhibit long-term ``superorbital'' periodicities on timescales of $\sim$ 10 - 100 days. Several physical mechanisms have been proposed that give rise to such periodicities, in particular warping and/or precession of the accretion disk. Recent theoretical work predicts the stability to disk warping of X-ray binaries as a function of the mass ratio, binary radius, viscosity and accretion efficiency, and here we examine the constraints that can be placed on such models by current observations. Read More

Affiliations: 1Southampton University, 2NASA/GSFC, 3Southampton University, 4NASA/GSFC, 5NASA/GSFC, 6Southampton University
Category: Astrophysics

On December 27th 2000 during our regular SMC monitoring program with Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer, strong pulsations were detected with a period of 4.78 seconds. Subsequent slew observations performed on Jan 9th and 13th across the field of view allowed localisation of the pulsar's position to RA: 0 52 17, Dec: 72 19 51 (J2000). Read More

Long term X-ray monitoring data from the RXTE ASM and CGRO BATSE reveal that the third (superorbital) period in SMC X-1 is not constant, but varies between 40-60 days. A dynamic power spectrum analysis indicates that the third period has been present continuously throughout the five years of ASM observations. This period changed smoothly from 60 days to 45 days and then returned to its former value, on a timescale of approximately 1600 days. Read More

Affiliations: 1Southampton University, 2Southampton University, 3NASA/MSFC, 4NASA/MSFC, 5NASA/MSFC
Category: Astrophysics

Using the 9 years of continuous data now available from the Burst And Transient Source Experiment (BATSE) aboard CGRO, we have measured orbital periods and produced folded lightcurves for 8 High Mass X-ray Binaries (HMXB). Given the length of the datasets, our determinations are based on many more binary orbits than previous investigations. Thus our source detections have high statistical significance and we are able to follow long-term trends in X-ray output. Read More

Affiliations: 1Southampton University, 2GSFC, 3GSFC, 4Southampton University, 5GSFC, 6GSFC
Category: Astrophysics

Rossi X-Ray Timing Explorer observations of the Small Magellanic Cloud have revealed a previously unknown transient X-ray pulsar with a pulse period of 95s. Provisionally designated XTE SMC95, the pulsar was detected in three Proportional Counter Array observations during an outburst spanning 4 weeks in March/April 1999. The pulse profile is double peaked reaching a pulse fraction \~0. Read More

Affiliations: 1Southampton Univ, 2Southampton Univ, 3Southampton Univ, 4Obs de Strasbourg, 5Southampton Univ
Category: Astrophysics

We report optical and IR observations of the ASCA X-ray pulsar system AX J0051-733. The relationship between the X-ray source and possible optical counterparts is discussed. Long term optical data from over 7 years are presented which reveal both a 1. Read More

Affiliations: 1NSSTC, 2NSSTC, 3Southampton University, 4Southampton University, 5Universitat de Valencia
Category: Astrophysics

Using BATSE and RXTE observations from 1991 April to 2001 August we have detected 71 outbursts from 82 periastron passages of EXO 2030+375, a 42-second transient X-ray pulsar with a Be star companion, including several outbursts from 1993 August to 1996 April when the source was previously believed to be quiescent. Combining BATSE, RXTE, and EXOSAT data we have derived an improved orbital solution. Applying this solution results in a smooth profile for the spin-up rate during the giant outburst and results in evidence for a correlation between the spin-up rate and observed flux in the brighter BATSE outbursts. Read More