RX J0123.4-7321-the story continues: major circumstellar disc loss and recovery
journal contributionposted on 13.09.2021, 12:38 by MJ Coe, A Udalski, JA Kennea, PA Evans
ABSTRACT RX J0123.4-7321 is a well-established Be star X-ray binary system in the Small Magellanic Cloud. Like many such systems, the variable X-ray emission is driven by the underlying behaviour of the mass donor Be star. Previous work has shown that the optical and X-ray were characterized by regular outbursts at the proposed binary period of 119 d. However, around 2008 February the optical behaviour changed substantially, with the previously regular optical outbursts ending. Reported here are new optical (OGLE) and X-ray (Swift) observations covering the period after 2008 that suggest an almost total circumstellar disc loss followed by a gradual recovery. This indicates the probable transition of a Be star to a B star, and back again. However, at the time of the most recent OGLE data (2020 March) the characteristic periodic outbursts had yet to return to their early state, indicating that the disc still had some re-building yet to complete.