Exciting the magnetosphere of the magnetar CXOU J164710.2-455216 in Westerlund 1

M. P. Muno, B. M. Gaensler*, J. S. Clark, R. de Grijs, D. Pooley, I. R. Stevens, S. F. Portegies Zwart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


We describe XMM-Newton observations taken 4.3 d prior to and 1.5 d subsequent to two remarkable events that were detected with Swift on 2006 September 21 from the candidate magnetar CXOU J164710.2-455216: (i) a 20-ms burst with an energy of 1037 erg (15-150 keV), and (ii) a rapid spin-down (glitch) with ΔP/P ~ -10-4. We find that the luminosity of the pulsar increased by a factor of 100 in the interval between observations, from 1 × 1033 to 1 × 1035 erg s-1 (0.5-8.0 keV), and that its spectrum hardened. The pulsed count rate increased by a factor of 10 (0.5-8.0 keV), but the fractional rms amplitude of the pulses decreased from 65 to 11 per cent, and their profile changed from being single-peaked to exhibiting three distinct peaks. Similar changes have been observed from other magnetars in response to outbursts, such as that of 1E 2259+586 in 2002 June. We suggest that a plastic deformation of the neutron star crust induced a very slight twist in the external magnetic field, which in turn generated currents in the magnetosphere that were the direct cause of the X-ray outburst.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L44-L48
Number of pages5
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • stars: magnetic fields
  • stars: neutron
  • pulsars: individual: CXOU J164710.2– 455216
  • X-rays: bursts


Dive into the research topics of 'Exciting the magnetosphere of the magnetar CXOU J164710.2-455216 in Westerlund 1'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this