356 research outputs found

    On the Nature of the X-ray Emission from the Accreting Millisecond Pulsar SAX J1808.4-3658

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    The pulse profiles of the accreting X-ray millisecond pulsar SAX J1808.4-3658 at different energies are studied. The two main emission component, the black body and the Comptonized tail that are clearly identified in the time-averaged spectrum, show strong variability with the first component lagging the second one. The observed variability can be explained if the emission is produced by Comptonization in a hot slab (radiative shock) of Thomson optical depth ~0.3-1 at the neutron star surface. The emission patterns of the black body and the Comptonized radiation are different: a "knife"- and a "fan"-like, respectively. We construct a detailed model of the X-ray production accounting for the Doppler boosting, relativistic aberration and gravitational light bending in the Schwarzschild spacetime. We present also accurate analytical formulae for computations of the light curves from rapidly rotating neutron stars using formalism recently developed by Beloborodov (2002). Our model reproduces well the pulse profiles at different energies simultaneously, corresponding phase lags, as well as the time-averaged spectrum. We constrain the compact star mass to be bounded between 1.2 and 1.6 solar masses. By fitting the observed profiles, we determine the radius of the compact object to be R~11 km if M=1.6 M_sun, while for M=1.2 M_sun the best-fitting radius is ~6.5 km, indicating that the compact object in SAX J1808.4-3658 can be a strange star. We obtain a lower limit on the inclination of the system of 65 degrees.Comment: 11 pages, 7 figures, submitted to MNRA

    X-ray spectral transitions of black holes from RXTE All-Sky Monitor

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    We have analysed X-ray outbursts from several Galactic black hole (GBH) transients, as seen by the ASM on board RXTE. We have used the best estimates of distance and black hole mass to find their luminosity (scaled to the Eddington limit), which allowed for direct comparison of many sources. We have found two distinct hard-to-soft state transitions in the initial part of the outburst. The distinction is made on the basis of the transition luminosity, its duration, the shape of the track in the hardness-luminosity diagram, and evolution of the hardness ratio. The bright/slow transition occurs at ~30 per cent of Eddington (estimated bolometric) luminosity and takes >~30 days, during which the source quickly reaches the intermediate/very high state and then proceeds to the soft state at much slower pace. The dark/slow transition is less luminous (<~10 per cent of Eddington), shorter (<~15 days) and the source does not slow its transition rate before reaching the soft state. We speculate that the distinction is due to irradiation and evaporation of the disc, which sustains the Comptonizing corona in the bright intemediate/very high state.Comment: Revised version, accepted for publication in MNRA

    The superorbital variability and triple nature of the X-ray source 4U 1820-303

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    We perform a comprehensive analysis of the superorbital modulation in the ultracompact X-ray source 4U 1820-303, consisting of a white dwarf accreting onto a neutron star. Based on RXTE data, we measure the fractional amplitude of the source superorbital variability (with a 170-d quasi-period) in the folded and averaged light curves, and find it to be by a factor of about 2. As proposed before, the superorbital variability can be explained by oscillations of the binary eccentricity. We now present detailed calculations of the eccentricity-dependent flow through the inner Lagrangian point, and find a maximum of the eccentricity of about 0.004 is sufficient to explain the observed fractional amplitude. We then study hierarchical triple models yielding the required quasi-periodic eccentricity oscillations through the Kozai process. We find the resulting theoretical light curves to match well the observed ones. We constrain the ratio of the semimajor axes of the outer and inner systems, the component masses, and the inclination angle between the inner and outer orbits. Last but not least, we discover a remarkable and puzzling synchronization between the observed period of the superorbital variability (equal to the period of the eccentricity oscillations in our model) and the period of the general-relativistic periastron precession of the binary

    The superorbital variability and triple nature of the X-ray source 4U 1820-303

    Get PDF
    We perform a comprehensive analysis of the superorbital modulation in the ultracompact X-ray source 4U 1820-303, consisting of a white dwarf accreting onto a neutron star. Based on RXTE data, we measure the fractional amplitude of the source superorbital variability (with a 170-d quasi-period) in the folded and averaged light curves, and find it to be by a factor of about 2. As proposed before, the superorbital variability can be explained by oscillations of the binary eccentricity. We now present detailed calculations of the eccentricity-dependent flow through the inner Lagrangian point, and find a maximum of the eccentricity of about 0.004 is sufficient to explain the observed fractional amplitude. We then study hierarchical triple models yielding the required quasi-periodic eccentricity oscillations through the Kozai process. We find the resulting theoretical light curves to match well the observed ones. We constrain the ratio of the semimajor axes of the outer and inner systems, the component masses, and the inclination angle between the inner and outer orbits. Last but not least, we discover a remarkable and puzzling synchronization between the observed period of the superorbital variability (equal to the period of the eccentricity oscillations in our model) and the period of the general-relativistic periastron precession of the binary.Comment: MNRAS, in pres

    Modeling The X-ray Timing Properties Of Cygnus X-1 As Caused By Waves Propagating In A Transition Disk

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    We show that waves propagating in a transition disk can explain the short term temporal behavior of Cygnus X-1. In the transition disk model the spectrum is produced by saturated Comptonization within the inner region of the accretion disk where the temperature varies rapidly with radius. Recently, the spectrum from such a disk has been shown to fit the average broad band spectrum of this source better than that predicted by the soft-photon Comptonization model. Here, we consider a simple model where waves are propagating cylindrically symmetrical ly in the transition disk with a uniform propagation speed (cpc_p). We show that this model can qualitatively explain (a) the variation of the power spectral density (PSD) with energy, (b) the hard lags as a function of frequency and (c) the hard lags as a function of energy for various frequencies. Thus the transition disk model can explain the average spectrum and the short term temporal behavior of Cygnus X-1.Comment: accepted for publication in APJ letter

    Comprehensive Spectral Analysis of Cyg X-1 using RXTE Data

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    We analyse a large number (>500> 500) pointed RXTE observations of Cyg X-1 and model the spectrum of each one. A subset of the observations for which there is simultaneous reliable measure of the hardness ratio by the All Sky Monitor, shows that the sample covers nearly all the spectral shapes of Cyg X-1. The relative strength, width of the Iron line and the reflection parameter are in general correlated with the high energy photon spectral index Γ\Gamma. This is broadly consistent with a geometry where for the hard state (low Γ∼1.7\Gamma \sim 1.7) there is a hot inner Comptonizing region surrounded by a truncated cold disk. The inner edge of the disk moves inwards as the source becomes softer till finally in the soft state (high Γ>2.2\Gamma > 2.2) the disk fills the inner region and active regions above the disk produce the Comptonized component. However, the reflection parameter shows non-monotonic behaviour near the transition region (Γ∼2\Gamma \sim 2), suggestive of a more complex geometry or physical state of the reflector. Additionally, the inner disk temperature, during the hard state, is on the average higher than in the soft one, albeit with large scatter. These inconsistencies could be due to limitations in the data and the empirical model used to fit them. The flux of each spectral component is well correlated with Γ\Gamma which shows that unlike some other black hole systems, Cyg X-1 does not show any hysteresis behaviour. In the soft state, the flux of the Comptonized component is always similar to the disk one, which confirms that the ultra-soft state (seen in other brighter black hole systems) is not exhibited by Cyg X-1. The rapid variation of the Compton Amplification factor with Γ\Gamma, naturally explains the absence of spectra with Γ<1.6\Gamma < 1.6, despite a large number having Γ∼1.65\Gamma \sim 1.65.Comment: 12 pages, 8 figures, accepted for publication in Research in Astronomy and Astrophysics (RAA

    A comment on the colour-colour diagrams of low-mass X-ray binaries

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    Disc-accreting neutron stars come in two distinct varieties, atolls and Z sources, named after their differently shaped tracks on a colour–colour diagram as the source luminosity changes. Here we present analysis of three transient atoll sources showing that there is an additional branch in the colour–colour diagram of atoll sources which appears at very low luminosities. This new branch connects to the top of previously known C-shaped (atoll) path, forming a horizontal track where the average source flux decrease from right to left. This turns the C-shape into a Z. Thus both atolls and Z sources share the same topology on the colour–colour diagram and evolve in similar way, as a function of increasing averaged mass accretion rate. This strongly favours models in which the underlying geometry of these sources changes in similar ways. A possible scenario is one where the truncated disc approaches the neutron star when the accretion rate increases, but in the atolls the disc is truncated by evaporation (similarly to black holes), and in the Z sources it is truncated by the magnetic field
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