A Long-Period, Violently Variable X-ray Source in a Young Supernova Remnant

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Observations with the Newton X-ray Multimirror Mission satellite show a strong periodic modulation at 6.67 ± 0.03 hours of the x-ray source at the center of the 2000-year-old supernova remnant RCW 103. No fast pulsations are visible. If genetically tied to the supernova remnant, the source could either be an x-ray binary, composed of a compact object and a low-mass star in an eccentric orbit, or an isolated neutron star. In the latter case, the combination of its age and period would indicate that it is a peculiar magnetar, dramatically slowed down, possibly by a supernova debris disc. Both scenarios require nonstandard assumptions about the formation and evolution of compact objects in supernova explosions.

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