AAS Meeting #193 - Austin, Texas, January 1999
Session 43. RXTE, XTE and X-Ray Sources
Display, Thursday, January 7, 1999, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall 1

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[43.06] Infrared Imaging of the Cluster Liller 1 During the Active Phase of the Rapid Burster

E. W. Deutsch, S. F. Anderson, B. Margon (U. of Washington)

Unique in the Galaxy, the Rapid Burster (MXB 1730-335) in the globular cluster Liller 1 is the only low-mass X-ray binary observed to emit both type I and II X-ray bursts. Often the rapid chains of bursts occur at intervals as short as 7 s, sometimes producing thousands of bursts per day. The burst flux is related to the time between bursts in a fashion reminiscent of a relaxation oscillator, strongly implying that the neutron star magnetic field acts as a reservoir which fills and empties, causing each burst. Thus with this object we are directly observing the dynamic behavior of the intense magnetic field of a neutron star on a timescale of seconds. The outburst phase occurs every 6-8 months and lasts only a few weeks. Despite considerable study in X-rays, there still remains no optical counterpart which is almost surely due to the extreme crowding from cluster stars as well as high interstellar extinction. There have been past searches for infrared bursts using large (20'') apertures centered on the cluster. The results are tantalizing but ambiguous.

Here we examine a set of time-resolved 1'' resolution imaging observations of Liller 1 in the K band taken with the Apache Point 3.5-m telescope during the most recent outburst episode. The observations were acquired on seven distinct nights in 1998 August-September, a few hours per night, including times of simultaneous X-ray observation during which X-ray bursts were recorded. We present results from a search of both the X-ray and radio error circles for a variable object, using an image-subtraction technique.

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