The discovery of optical bursts from MS 1603.6+2600 (UW coronae borealis)

R. I. Hynes, The University of Texas at Austin
E. L. Robinson, The University of Texas at Austin
E. Jeffery, The University of Texas at Austin


We report the discovery of several optical burstlike events from the low-mass X-ray binary MS 1603.6+2600 (UW CrB). The events last for a few tens of seconds, exhibit a very fast rise and slow decay, and involve optical brightening of a factor of 2-3. The flares appear distinct from the lower level flickering and instead strongly resemble reprocessed type I X-ray bursts as seen in a number of other neutron star low-mass X-ray binaries. In conjunction with the previously reported candidate X-ray burst, these confirm that the compact object in UW CrB is a neutron star. We examine the optical burst brightness and recurrence times and discuss how the nature of the system can be constrained. We conclude that the source is most likely an accretion disk corona source at an intermediate distance, rather than a nearby quiescent system or very distant dipper.