247 research outputs found

    Probing Strong Gravitational Fields in X-ray Novae

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    Most X-ray novae (aka soft X-ray transients) contain black hole primaries. In particular, the large mass functions measured for six X-ray novae directly clinch the argument (within general relativity) that they contain black holes. These firm dynamical results are discussed, and the urgent need to determine precise masses for black holes is stressed. The dynamical evidence for black holes is convincing but it is indirect. Now it appears that direct evidence may be at hand. Three recent studies have revealed phenomena that very likely probe strong gravitational fields: (1) a comparison of the luminosities of black hole systems and neutron star systems has yielded compelling evidence for the existence of event horizons; (2) RXTE observations of fast, stable QPOs have probed the very inner accretion disks of two black holes; and (3) three different types of low energy spectra have been linked to different black-hole spin states (e.g. Kerr vs. Schwarzschild).Comment: To appear in "Accretion Processes in Astrophysical Systems," Proceedings of the 8th Annual Astrophysics Conference in Maryland, eds. S.S. Holt & T. Kallman (NY: AIP

    EXOSAT guest observer program. Binary parameters of the X-ray Pulsar 4U1626-67

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    The pulsing X-ray source 4U1626-67 is an accreting neutron star in a binary system with a very low mass companion. The source was observed with EXOSAT continuously for 23 hr on 30 to 31 March 1986 UT. These observations allowed the setting of a stringent upper limit on the projected semimajor axis of the orbit of the neutron star of approx. 10 light msec for the 2485-s orbital period found by Middleditch et al., and a limit of approx. 13 light msec for any other plausible orbital period. The corresponding upper limit on the mass function for the 2485-s orbital period is 1.3 x 0.000001 solar mass. It was concluded that if the orbital inclination angle, i, equals 90 deg, then the optical companion star has a mass greater than 0.02 solar mass. However, it was found that a companion star mass greater than 0.06 solar mass is required if gravitational radiation is responsible for driving the mass transfer in this system. Only for i less than 16 deg can a companion star mass this large be accommodated by the limits set on the orbital amplitude. Also presented are results on the flaring activity in 4U1626-67 on time scales of approx. 1000 s, the energy dependent pulse profiles, and the pulse period history over the past decade

    A New Model for Black Hole Soft X-ray Transients in Quiescence

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    We present models of the soft X-ray transients, A0620-00, V404 Cyg, and X-ray Nova Mus 1991, in quiescence. In each source, we postulate that there is an outer region, extending outward from about 3000 Schwarzschild radii, where the accretion flow is in the form of a standard thin disk. The outer disk produces most of the radiation we observe in the infrared, optical and UV bands. We propose that the disk undergoes an instability at its inner edge, perhaps by the mechanism described recently by Meyer \& Meyer-Hofmeister for cataclysmic variables. The accreting gas is thereby converted into a hot corona which flows into the black hole as a nearly virial two-temperature flow. We describe the hot inner flow by means of a recently discovered stable solution of optically thin advection-dominated accretion. In this flow, most of the thermal energy released by viscous dissipation is advected into the black hole and only a small fraction, 104103\sim10^{-4}-10^{-3}, of the energy is radiated. The radiation is in the form of Comptonized synchrotron and bremsstrahlung emission, and has a broad spectrum extending from optical to soft gamma-rays. The models we present are consistent with all the available data in the three sources. In particular, the X-ray emission from the hot inner flow fits the observed flux and spectral index of A0620-00. We derive a mass accretion rate of \sim10^{-11}\msyr in A0620-00 and Nova Mus, and \sim{\rm few}\times10^{-10}\msyr in V404 Cyg. The best fit to the data is obtained for a viscosity parameter α0.10.3\alpha\sim0.1-0.3 in the hot flow. The models predict that all three sources must have substantial flux in hard X-rays and soft γ\gamma-rays. This prediction is testable in the case of V404 Cyg with current instruments. A necessary feature of our proposal is that most of the viscousComment: 32 Pages, 6 Figures included, Compressed Postscript, To Appear in Astrophysical Journa

    Observational Evidence for a Correlation Between Jet Power and Black Hole Spin

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    We show that the 5-GHz radio flux of transient ballistic jets in black hole binaries correlates with the dimensionless black hole spin parameter a* estimated via the continuum-fitting method. The data suggest that jet power scales either as the square of a* or the square of the angular velocity of the horizon. This is the first direct evidence that jets may be powered by black hole spin energy. The observed correlation validates the continuum-fitting method of measuring spin. In addition, for those black holes that have well-sampled radio observations of ballistic jets, the correlation may be used to obtain rough estimates of their spins.Comment: Published online in MNRAS, November 21, 201