COE M.J., EDGE W.R.T., GALACHE J.L. and McBRIDE V.A.
Abstract (from CDS):
This work represent the first major study of the optical and infrared characteristics of the mass donor companions to the X-ray pulsars in the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC). In this work several new counterparts have been identified, and possible ones confirmed, as companions to X-ray pulsars in the SMC giving a total of 34 such objects now identified. In addition this work presents three new binary periods and confirms two X-ray periods using optical data for objects in this group. This homogeneous sample has been studied as a group to determine important general characteristics that may offer an insight into the evolution of such systems. In particular, the spectral class distribution shows a much greater agreement with those of isolated Be stars, and appears to be in some disagreement with the galactic population of Be stars in Be/X-ray binaries. Studies of the long-term optical modulation of the Be star companions reveal an extremely variable group of objects, a fact which will almost certainly make a major contribution to the pronounced X-ray variability. The spatial distribution of these systems within the SMC is investigated and strongly suggests a link between massive star formation and the Hi density distribution. Finally, studies of the circumstellar disc characteristics reveal a strong link with optical variability offering important clues into the long-term stability of such discs.