The Rapid X-Ray Variability of V4641 Sagittarii (SAX J1819.3-2525 = XTE J1819-254)

Rudy Adam Dirk Wijnands, M van der Klis

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We report on the rapid X-ray variability of the variable star and X-ray transient V4641 Sagittarii (SAX J1819.3-2525 = XTE J1819-254) as observed on 1999 September 15 by the proportional counter array (PCA) on board the Rossi X-Ray Timing Explorer. During the first similar to 900 s of the first PCA observation, V4641 Sgr showed very strong X-ray fluctuations by a factor of 4 on timescales of seconds to about 500 on timescales of minutes. The spectrum of the source during this flaring episode became harder when the count rate decreased. After this flaring episode, V4641 Sgr entered a quiescent state in which it remained for the rest of this and subsequent PCA observations. The X-ray spectrum was considerably softer in this quiescent state than during the flaring episode. The intrinsic X-ray luminosity (during both the flaring episode and the quiescent state) and the rapid X-ray variability do not strongly constrain the nature of the compact object (neutron star or black hole) in the system, although a black hole seems to be more likely. The very short duration of the bright X-ray phase of V4641 Sgr and its likely close proximity suggest that many similar objects could be present in our Galaxy, most of which are not noticed when they are in outburst because of the short duration of these outbursts. A considerable number of the black holes present in our Galaxy might be contained in systems similar to V4641 Sgr.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)pp.L93-L96.
Number of pages4
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2000


  • accretion, accretion disks
  • stars : individual (V4641 Sagittarii)
  • X-rays : stars
  • GS-2023+338


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