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Optical emission of the black hole X-ray transient MAXI J1659-152 during quiescence

ATEL # 2976; A.K.H. Kong (NTHU, Taiwan), C.-C. Lin, Y.-T. Chen (NCU, Taiwan), P.A. Price, E. Magnier, K. Chambers, N. Kaiser, J. Morgan, W. Burgett, J. Heasley, W. Sweeney, C. Waters, H. Flewelling, J. Tonry (IfA, Hawaii)
on 27 Oct 2010; 15:06 UT
Password Certification: Albert Kong (

Subjects: Optical, X-ray, Binaries, Black Holes, Transients

We report the discovery of the quiescent optical counterpart of the black hole X-ray transient MAXI J1659-152 currently in outburst (ATel #2873, #2881, GCN #11298) in the Pan-STARRS 1 (PS1) 3Pi sky survey. During the survey, the field of MAXI J1659-152 was observed with the r-band filter on the nights of 2010 May 19 and 2010 June 19. The source was seen as a very faint object in the 40-sec r-band images taken on 2010 June 19. Based on the MAXI/GSC lightcurve, MAXI J1659-152 was in quiescence during the PS1 observations (the source went into outburst on 2010 September 25). The optical counterpart of MAXI J1659-152 is an uncatalogued source in the 3Pi catalog. By comparing with several nearby catalogued 3Pi sources, the r-band magnitude of MAXI J1659-152 is about 22.4 (AB mag). The source is marginally seen in a poor seeing r-band image taken on 2010 May 19. The field was also observed with other filters but the source is only seen in the r-band images. It is worth noting that there are two sources (with r-band magnitudes of 20.5 and 21.7) about 2-3 arcsec from MAXI J1659-152 that are also seen in ATel #2884.

For comparison, the peak R-band magnitude of MAXI J1659-152 is about 16.2 (ATel #2884). The current U-, B-, and V-band magnitude measured by Swift/UVOT as of 2010 October 22 is 16.7, 17.6, and 17.2, respectively.

This discovery was enabled using the PS1 System operated by the PS1 Science Consortium (PS1SC) and its member institutions, . We would like to thank the PS1 telescope operators for their support of PS1 observations.

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R. E. Rutledge , Editor
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