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Discovery of orbital decay in SMC X-1
Levine, A.; Rappaport, S.; Deeter, J. E.; Boynton, P. E.; Nagase, F.
AA(MIT, Cambridge, MA), AB(MIT, Cambridge, MA), AC(Washington Univ., Seattle), AD(Washington Univ., Seattle), AE(Inst. of Space and Astronautical Science, Sagamihara, Japan)
Astrophysical Journal, Part 1 (ISSN 0004-637X), vol. 410, no. 1, p. 328-341. (ApJ Homepage)
Publication Date:
NASA/STI Keywords:
Decay, Magellanic Clouds, Orbital Mechanics, Pulsars, Spaceborne Astronomy, X Ray Binaries, Computational Astrophysics, Ginga Satellite, Stellar Envelopes, Stellar Evolution, Stellar Mass, Stellar Oscillations
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Three observations of the binary X-ray pulsar SMC X-1 with the Ginga satellite, conducted on 3 days in 1987 May, 8.4 days in 1988 August-September, and 4 days in 1989 July-August, are reported. Based on the three observation epochs, the rate of change in the orbital period is estimated at (-3.36 +/- 0.02) x 10 exp -6/yr. An interpretation of the orbital decay is made in the context of tidal evolution with allowance for the effect of the increasing moment of inertia of the companion star due to its nuclear evolution. While the orbital decay is thought to be driven by tidal interactions, it is suggested that the asynchronism between the orbit and the rotation of the companion star is most likely maintained by the evolutionary expansion of the companion star (Sk 160) rather than via the Darwin instability.

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