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Astrophysical Journal Letters





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Be star X-ray binaries are transient systems that show two different types of outbursts. Type I outbursts occur each orbital period while type II outbursts have a period and duration that are not related to any periodicity of the binary system. Type II outbursts may be caused by mass transfer to the neutron star from a highly eccentric Be star disk. A sufficiently misaligned Be star decretion disk undergoes secular Von Zeipel-Lidov-Kozai (ZLK) oscillations of eccentricity and inclination. Observations show that in some systems the type II outbursts come in pairs with the second being of lower luminosity. We use numerical hydrodynamical simulations to explore the dynamics of the highly misaligned disk that forms around the neutron star as a consequence of mass transfer from the Be star disk. We show that the neutron star disk may also be ZLK unstable and that the eccentricity growth leads to an enhancement in the accretion rate onto the neutron star that lasts for several orbital periods, resembling a type II outburst. We suggest that in a type II outburst pair, the first outburst is caused by mass transfer from the eccentric Be star disk while the second and smaller outburst is caused by the eccentric neutron star disk. We find that the timescale between outbursts in a pair may be compatible with the observed estimates.

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Neutron stars


Stars, Interstellar Medium and the Galaxy

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