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EXOSAT medium energy observations of Cyg X-2

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On July 5.–6. 1983, during the EXOSAT performance verification (PV) and calibration phase, a raster scan of Cygnus X-2 was performed. In contrast to the previously observed smooth intensity variations on timescales of hours, the source revealed a behaviour unknown until now: active periods with high energy flares recurring on time scales of 300–500 s were interrupted by quiet periods of several hours. At all intensity levels the source spectra clearly require a two component continuum (blackbody + thermal bremsstrahlung). In addition, a weak iron emission line with equivalent widths between 39 an 70 eV was detected. The source has a much harder spectrum during the flares than during quiet periods, indicating drastic temperature changes within the emission region, while the absolute iron line flux does not vary. From the spectral characteristics it becomes clear that self-comptonization of the thermal bremsstrahlung spectrum plays an important role. The time variability and spectral behaviour in this peculiar state allow Cyg X-2 to be classified as a Low Mass X-ray Binary System (LMXB) very similar to the prototype of this class, Sco X-1.

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Hasinger, G., Langmeier, A., Pietsch, W. et al. EXOSAT medium energy observations of Cyg X-2. Space Sci Rev 40, 233–238 (1985).

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  • Flare
  • Equivalent Width
  • Line Flux
  • Quiet Period
  • Performance Verification