A Multiwavelength View of the Neutron Star Binary 1FGL J1417.7-4402: A Progenitor to Canonical Millisecond Pulsars
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© 2018. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.. The Fermi ?-ray source 1FGL J1417.7-4407 (J1417) is a compact X-ray binary with a neutron star primary and a red giant companion in a ~5.4 days orbit. This initial conclusion, based on optical and X-ray data, was confirmed when a 2.66 ms radio pulsar was found at the same location (and with the same orbital properties) as the optical/X-ray source. However, these initial studies found conflicting evidence about the accretion state and other properties of the binary. We present new optical, radio, and X-ray observations of J1417 that allow us to better understand this unusual system. We show that one of the main pieces of evidence previously put forward for an accretion disk - the complex morphology of the persistent H emission line - can be better explained by the presence of a strong, magnetically driven stellar wind from the secondary and its interaction with the pulsar wind. The radio spectral index derived from VLA/ATCA observations is broadly consistent with that expected from a millisecond pulsar, further disfavoring an accretion disk scenario. X-ray observations show evidence for a double-peaked orbital light curve, similar to that observed in some redback millisecond pulsar binaries and likely due to an intrabinary shock. Refined optical light-curve fitting gives a distance of 3.1 ±0.6 kpc, confirmed by a Gaia DR2 parallax measurement. At this distance the X-ray luminosity of J1417 is () ×1033 erg s-1, which is more luminous than all known redback systems in the rotational-powered pulsar state, perhaps due to the wind from the giant companion. The unusual phenomenology of this system and its differing evolutionary path from redback millisecond pulsar binaries points to a new eclipsing pulsar "spider" subclass that is a possible progenitor of normal field millisecond pulsar binaries.
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