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I will review our current knowledge on the most magnetic objects in the Universe, a small sample of neutron stars called magnetars. The powerful persistent high energy emission and the flares from these strongly magnetized (1015 Gauss) neutron stars are providing crucial information about the physics involved at these extremes conditions, reserving us many unexpected surprises.
The Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) will give us an unprecedented opportunity to investigate the transient sky at radio wavelengths. In this paper we present VAST, an ASKAP survey for Variables and Slow Transients. VAST will exploit the wide-field survey capabilities of ASKAP to enable the discovery and investigation of variable and transient phenomena from the local to the cosmological, including flare stars, intermittent pulsars, X-ray binaries, magnetars, extreme scattering events, interstellar scintillation, radio supernovae, and orphan afterglows of gamma-ray bursts. In addition, it will allow us to probe unexplored regions of parameter space where new classes of transient sources may be detected. In this paper we review the known radio transient and variable populations and the current results from blind radio surveys. We outline a comprehensive program based on a multi-tiered survey strategy to characterise the radio transient sky through detection and monitoring of transient and variable sources on the ASKAP imaging timescales of 5 s and greater. We also present an analysis of the expected source populations that we will be able to detect with VAST.
Among the many different classes of stellar objects, neutron stars provide a unique environment where we can test (at the same time) our understanding of matter with extreme density, temperature, and magnetic field. In particular, the properties of matter under the influence of magnetic fields and the role of electromagnetism in physical processes are key areas of research in physics. However, despite decades of research, our limited knowledge on the physics of strong magnetic fields is clear: we only need to note that the strongest steady magnetic field achieved in terrestrial labs is some millions of Gauss, only thousands of times stronger than a common refrigerator magnet. In this general context, I will review here the state of the art of our research on the most magnetic objects in the Universe, a small sample of neutron stars called magnetars. The study of the large high-energy emission, and the flares from these strongly magnetized (~ 1015 Gauss) neutron stars is providing crucial information about the physics involved at these extremes conditions, and favoring us with many unexpected surprises.
We found evidence for the super–orbital modulation in the X-ray emission of LS I + 61°303 from the longest monitoring date by the RXTE. The time evolution of the modulated fraction in the orbital light curves can be well fitted with a sinusoidal function having a super-orbital period of 1667 days. However, we have found a 281.8±44.6 day shift between the super-orbital variability found at radio frequencies and our X-ray data. We also find a super-orbital modulation in the maximum count rate of the orbital light curves, compatible with the former results, including the shift.
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