We propose a physically motivated and self-consistent prescription for the modeling of transient neutron star low-mass X-ray binary (LMXB) properties, such as duty cycle (DC), outburst duration, and recurrence time. We apply this prescription to the population synthesis models of field LMXBs presented by Fragos et al., and compare the transient LMXB population to the Chandra X-ray survey of the two elliptical galaxies NGC 3379 and NGC 4278, which revealed several transient sources. We are able to exclude models with a constant DC for all transient systems, while models with a variable DC based on the properties of each system are consistent with the observed transient populations. We predict that the majority of the observed transient sources in these two galaxies are LMXBs with red giant donors. Finally, our comparison suggests that transient LMXBs are very rare in globular clusters (GCs), and thus the number of identified transient LMXBs may be used as a tracer of the relative contribution of field and GC LMXB populations.
- binaries: close, galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD, stars: evolution, X-rays: binaries