417 research outputs found

    Using radio emission to detect isolated and quiescent accreting black holes

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    We discuss the implications of new relations between black holes' masses, X-ray luminosities and radio luminosities, as well as the properties of the next generation of radio telescopes, for the goal of finding isolated accreting black holes. Because accreting black holes have radio-to-X-ray flux ratios that increase with decreasing luminosity in Eddington units, and because deep surveys over large fields of view should be possible with planned instrumentation such as LOFAR, radio surveys should be significantly more efficient than X-ray surveys for finding these objects.Comment: 5 pages, 1 table, accepted to MNRAS Letter

    Very fast X-ray spectral variability in Cygnus X-1: Origin of the hard and soft-state emission components

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    The way in which the X-ray photon index, {\Gamma}, varies as a function of count rate is a strong diagnostic of the emission processes and emission geometry around accreting compact objects. Here we present the results from a study using a new, and simple, method designed to improve sensitivity to the measurement of the variability of {\Gamma} on very short time-scales. We have measured {\Gamma} in ~2 million spectra, extracted from observations with a variety of different accretion rates and spectral states, on time-scales as short as 16 ms for the high mass X-ray binary Cygnus X-1, and have cross-correlated these measurements with the source count rate. In the soft-state cross-correlation functions (CCFs) we find a positive peak at zero lag, stronger and narrower in the softer observations. Assuming that the X-rays are produced by Compton scattering of soft seed photons by high energy electrons in a corona, these results are consistent with Compton cooling of the corona by seed photons from the inner edge of the accretion disc, the truncation radius of which increases with increasing hardness ratio. The CCFs produced from the hard-state observations, however, show an anti-correlation which is most easily explained by variation in the energy of the electrons in the corona rather than in variation of the seed photon flux. The hard-state CCFs can be decomposed into a narrow anti-correlation at zero lag, which we tentatively associate with the effects of self-Comptonisation of cyclo-synchrotron seed photons in either a hot, optically thin accretion flow or the base of the jet, and a second, asymmetric component which we suggest is produced as a consequence of a lag between the soft and hard X-ray emission. The lag may be caused by a radial temperature/energy gradient in the Comptonising electrons combined with the inward propagation of accretion rate perturbations.Comment: 12 pages, 14 figures; accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2013 June

    Constraints on jet X-ray emission in low/hard state X-ray binaries

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    We show that the combination of the similarities between the X-ray properties of low luminosity accreting black holes and accreting neutron stars, combined with the differences in their radio properties argues that the X-rays from these systems are unlikely to be formed in the relativistic jets. Specifically, the spectra of extreme island state neutron stars and low/hard state black holes are known to be indistinguishable, while the power spectra from these systems are known to show only minor differences beyond what would be expected from scaling the characteristic variability frequencies by the mass of the compact object. The spectral and temporal similarities thus imply a common emission mechanism that has only minor deviations from having all key parameters scaling linearly with the mass of the compact object, while we show that this is inconsistent with the observations that the radio powers of neutron stars are typically about 30 times lower than those of black holes at the same X-ray luminosity. We also show that an abrupt luminosity change would be expected when a system makes a spectral state transition from a radiatively inefficient jet dominated accretion flow to a thin disk dominated flow, but that such a change is not seen.Comment: 5 pages, no figures, accepted to MNRAS Letter

    On the Misalignment of Jets in Microquasars

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    We discuss the timescales for alignment of black hole and accretion disc spins in the context of binary systems. We show that for black holes that are formed with substantial angular momentum, the alignment timescales are likely to be at least a substantial fraction of the systems' lifetimes. This result explains the observed misalignment of the disc and the jet in the microquasar GRO J 1655-40 and in SAX J 1819-2525 as being likely due to the Bardeen-Petterson effect. We discuss the implications of these results on the mass estimate for GRS 1915+105, which has assumed the jet is perpendicular to the orbital plane of the system and may hence be an underestimate. We show that the timescales for the spin alignment in Cygnus X-3 are consistent with the likely misalignment of disc and jet in that system, and that this is suggested by the observational data.Comment: 15 pages, 2 figures, accepted to MNRA
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