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Long-term optical variability of high-mass X-ray binaries. II. Spectroscopy

Long-term optical variability of high-mass X-ray binaries. II. Spectroscopy
Long-term optical variability of high-mass X-ray binaries. II. Spectroscopy
Context. High-mass X-ray binaries are bright X-ray sources. The high-energy emission is caused by the accretion of matter from the massive companion onto a neutron star. The accreting material comes from either the strong stellar wind in binaries with supergiant companions or the cirscumstellar disk in Be/X-ray binaries. In either case, the H? line stands out as the main source of information about the state of the accreting material.

Aims. We present the results of our monitoring program to study the long-term variability of the H? line in high-mass X-ray binaries. Our aim is to characterise the optical variability timescales and study the interaction between the neutron star and the accreting material.

Methods. We fitted the H? line with Gaussian profiles and obtained the line parameters and equivalent width. The peak separation in split profiles was used to determine the disk velocity law and estimate the disk radius. The relative intensity of the two peaks (V/R ratio) allowed us to investigate the distribution of gas particles in the disk. The equivalent width was used to characterise the degree of variability of the systems. We also studied the variability of the H? line in correlation with the X-ray activity.

Results. Our results can be summarised as follows: i) we find that Be/X-ray binaries with narrow orbits are more variable than systems with long orbital periods; ii) we show that a Keplerian distribution of gas particles provides a good description of the disks in Be/X-ray binaries, as it does in classical Be stars; iii) a decrease in the H? equivalent width is generally observed after major X-ray outbursts; iv) we confirm that the H? equivalent width correlates with disk radius; v) while systems with supergiant companions display multi-structured profiles, most of the Be/X-ray binaries show, at some epoch, double-peak asymmetric profiles, which indicates that density inhomogeneities is a common property in the disk of Be/X-ray binaries; vi) the profile variability (V/R ratio) timescales are shorter and the H? equivalent widths are smaller in Be/X-ray binaries than in isolated Be stars; and vii) we provide new evidence that the disk in Be/X-ray binaries is, on average, denser than in classical Be stars.

Conclusions. We carried out the most complete optical spectroscopic study of the global properties of high-mass X-ray binaries with the analysis of more than 1100 spectra from 20 sources. Our results provide further evidence for the truncation of the disk in Be/X-ray binaries. We conclude that the interaction between the compact object and the Be-type star works in two directions: the massive companion provides the source of matter for accretion, affecting the surroundings of the compact object, and the continuous revolution of the neutron star around the optical counterpart also produces the truncation of the Be star’s equatorial disk.
0004-6361
1-31
Reig, P.
66ae1b8d-9c4b-449d-a459-6e8382a5986b
Nersesian, A.
59cc93b4-a977-4c1e-a260-e0ea7e0f85e5
Zezas, A.
f6fb6477-2c0a-4688-9dbd-c53cfa3306fd
Gkouvelis, L.
bff5d9f3-a63f-41ec-a763-ccb4ea3fd68f
Coe, M.J.
04dfb23b-1456-46a3-9242-5cee983471d5
Reig, P.
66ae1b8d-9c4b-449d-a459-6e8382a5986b
Nersesian, A.
59cc93b4-a977-4c1e-a260-e0ea7e0f85e5
Zezas, A.
f6fb6477-2c0a-4688-9dbd-c53cfa3306fd
Gkouvelis, L.
bff5d9f3-a63f-41ec-a763-ccb4ea3fd68f
Coe, M.J.
04dfb23b-1456-46a3-9242-5cee983471d5

Reig, P., Nersesian, A., Zezas, A., Gkouvelis, L. and Coe, M.J. (2016) Long-term optical variability of high-mass X-ray binaries. II. Spectroscopy. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 590 (A122), 1-31. (doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201628271).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Context. High-mass X-ray binaries are bright X-ray sources. The high-energy emission is caused by the accretion of matter from the massive companion onto a neutron star. The accreting material comes from either the strong stellar wind in binaries with supergiant companions or the cirscumstellar disk in Be/X-ray binaries. In either case, the H? line stands out as the main source of information about the state of the accreting material.

Aims. We present the results of our monitoring program to study the long-term variability of the H? line in high-mass X-ray binaries. Our aim is to characterise the optical variability timescales and study the interaction between the neutron star and the accreting material.

Methods. We fitted the H? line with Gaussian profiles and obtained the line parameters and equivalent width. The peak separation in split profiles was used to determine the disk velocity law and estimate the disk radius. The relative intensity of the two peaks (V/R ratio) allowed us to investigate the distribution of gas particles in the disk. The equivalent width was used to characterise the degree of variability of the systems. We also studied the variability of the H? line in correlation with the X-ray activity.

Results. Our results can be summarised as follows: i) we find that Be/X-ray binaries with narrow orbits are more variable than systems with long orbital periods; ii) we show that a Keplerian distribution of gas particles provides a good description of the disks in Be/X-ray binaries, as it does in classical Be stars; iii) a decrease in the H? equivalent width is generally observed after major X-ray outbursts; iv) we confirm that the H? equivalent width correlates with disk radius; v) while systems with supergiant companions display multi-structured profiles, most of the Be/X-ray binaries show, at some epoch, double-peak asymmetric profiles, which indicates that density inhomogeneities is a common property in the disk of Be/X-ray binaries; vi) the profile variability (V/R ratio) timescales are shorter and the H? equivalent widths are smaller in Be/X-ray binaries than in isolated Be stars; and vii) we provide new evidence that the disk in Be/X-ray binaries is, on average, denser than in classical Be stars.

Conclusions. We carried out the most complete optical spectroscopic study of the global properties of high-mass X-ray binaries with the analysis of more than 1100 spectra from 20 sources. Our results provide further evidence for the truncation of the disk in Be/X-ray binaries. We conclude that the interaction between the compact object and the Be-type star works in two directions: the massive companion provides the source of matter for accretion, affecting the surroundings of the compact object, and the continuous revolution of the neutron star around the optical counterpart also produces the truncation of the Be star’s equatorial disk.

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Accepted/In Press date: 24 March 2016
e-pub ahead of print date: 26 May 2016
Published date: June 2016
Organisations: Astronomy Group

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 396292
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/396292
ISSN: 0004-6361
PURE UUID: 429b4ba1-4eb8-4e5c-8018-98c9e6bb1f6a
ORCID for M.J. Coe: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-0763-8547

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Date deposited: 07 Jun 2016 14:40
Last modified: 17 Dec 2019 02:04

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Contributors

Author: P. Reig
Author: A. Nersesian
Author: A. Zezas
Author: L. Gkouvelis
Author: M.J. Coe ORCID iD

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