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An anticorrelation between X-ray luminosity and H? equivalent width in X-ray binaries

An anticorrelation between X-ray luminosity and H? equivalent width in X-ray binaries
An anticorrelation between X-ray luminosity and H? equivalent width in X-ray binaries
We report an anticorrelation between continuum luminosity and the equivalent width (EW) of the H? emission line in X-ray binary systems. The effect is evident both in a universal monotonic increase in H? EW with time following outbursts, as systems fade, and in a comparison between measured EWs and contemporaneous X-ray measurements. The effect is most clear for black hole binaries in the low/hard X-ray state, which is prevalent at X-ray luminosities below ?1 per cent of the Eddington luminosity. We do not find strong evidence for significant changes in line profiles across accretion state changes, but this is hampered by a lack of good data at such times. The observed anticorrelation, highly significant for black hole binaries, is only marginally so for neutron star systems, for which there are far less data. Comparison with previously established correlations between optical and X-ray luminosity suggests that the line luminosity is falling as the X-ray and optical luminosities drop, but not as fast, approximately, as LH??L?0.4X?L?0.7opt . We briefly discuss possible origins for such an effect, including the optical depth, form of the irradiating spectrum and geometry of the accretion flow. Further refinement of the relation in the future may allow measurements of H? EW to be used to estimate the luminosity of, and hence the distance to, X-ray binary systems. Beyond this, further progress will require a better sample of spectrophotometric data.
accretion, accretion discs, X-rays: binaries
0035-8711
1608-1616
Fender, R.P.
c802ddfc-25a3-4c0e-899d-11c405c705d1
Russell, D.M.
834b7d6a-da49-482f-adbd-031e10620667
Knigge, C.
ac320eec-631a-426e-b2db-717c8bf7857e
Soria, R.
56ae49f7-b9b8-4eed-bae0-3947ea14ec19
Hynes, R.I.
1409ca82-99c4-4b68-9a67-d5c9d67c636b
Goad, M.
62ad798a-4d53-4b93-8e2a-ddd6dcef72a8
Fender, R.P.
c802ddfc-25a3-4c0e-899d-11c405c705d1
Russell, D.M.
834b7d6a-da49-482f-adbd-031e10620667
Knigge, C.
ac320eec-631a-426e-b2db-717c8bf7857e
Soria, R.
56ae49f7-b9b8-4eed-bae0-3947ea14ec19
Hynes, R.I.
1409ca82-99c4-4b68-9a67-d5c9d67c636b
Goad, M.
62ad798a-4d53-4b93-8e2a-ddd6dcef72a8

Fender, R.P., Russell, D.M., Knigge, C., Soria, R., Hynes, R.I. and Goad, M. (2009) An anticorrelation between X-ray luminosity and H? equivalent width in X-ray binaries. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 393 (4), 1608-1616. (doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2008.14299.x).

Record type: Article

Abstract

We report an anticorrelation between continuum luminosity and the equivalent width (EW) of the H? emission line in X-ray binary systems. The effect is evident both in a universal monotonic increase in H? EW with time following outbursts, as systems fade, and in a comparison between measured EWs and contemporaneous X-ray measurements. The effect is most clear for black hole binaries in the low/hard X-ray state, which is prevalent at X-ray luminosities below ?1 per cent of the Eddington luminosity. We do not find strong evidence for significant changes in line profiles across accretion state changes, but this is hampered by a lack of good data at such times. The observed anticorrelation, highly significant for black hole binaries, is only marginally so for neutron star systems, for which there are far less data. Comparison with previously established correlations between optical and X-ray luminosity suggests that the line luminosity is falling as the X-ray and optical luminosities drop, but not as fast, approximately, as LH??L?0.4X?L?0.7opt . We briefly discuss possible origins for such an effect, including the optical depth, form of the irradiating spectrum and geometry of the accretion flow. Further refinement of the relation in the future may allow measurements of H? EW to be used to estimate the luminosity of, and hence the distance to, X-ray binary systems. Beyond this, further progress will require a better sample of spectrophotometric data.

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More information

Published date: March 2009
Keywords: accretion, accretion discs, X-rays: binaries

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 144179
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/144179
ISSN: 0035-8711
PURE UUID: 22d62483-9b11-44cc-9db2-00d3697fe34f

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Date deposited: 19 Apr 2010 09:01
Last modified: 08 Nov 2021 18:10

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Contributors

Author: R.P. Fender
Author: D.M. Russell
Author: C. Knigge
Author: R. Soria
Author: R.I. Hynes
Author: M. Goad

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