TeV gamma-ray emission from accreting binary pulsars
The high-mass X-ray binary SMC X-1 has been observed during the interval 1986-1989 at a threshold γ-ray energy of 0.4 TeV using the University of Durham Mark III air Cerenkov telescope at Narrabri. The Cerenkov arrival time series recorded during these observations have been tested for periodicity at the contemporary pulse period of the SMC X-1 X-ray pulsar. This period analysis was performed using a new technique - introduced in the present work - which is designed for TeV γ-ray source candidates in binary systems and which simultaneously seeks evidence for pulsed TeV γ-ray emission and information on the location of the emission site within the binary. Results are also presented from the period analysis of data accumulated at Narrabri during observations of the low-mass X-ray binaries X0021.8-7221 (in the globular cluster 47 Tucanae) and GX 1+4. X-ray binaries as a class of TeV γ-ray source are considered and their properties compared. Previous models which invoke the interaction of beams of high-energy particles with material within the environment of a binary system are discussed. One of these models is adapted in the present work in order to propose a simple explanation of the narrow TeV 7-ray orbital light curve observed for the high-mass binary Centaurus X-3. The new model accounts for the γ-ray emission from Cen X-3 in terms of the collisions of ultrarelativistic protons with an accretion wake trailing the X-ray pulsar. This model, which incorporates the steering of charged particles in the magnetosphere of the massive primary star, is also applied to the Vela X-1 binary in order to investigate claims that TeV γ-ray outbursts observed during X-ray eclipse arise at particle collisions with the limb of the supergiant companion.