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A persistent ultraviolet outflow from an accreting neutron star binary transient

A persistent ultraviolet outflow from an accreting neutron star binary transient
A persistent ultraviolet outflow from an accreting neutron star binary transient

All disc-accreting astrophysical objects produce powerful disc winds. In compact binaries containing neutron stars or black holes, accretion often takes place during violent outbursts. The main disc wind signatures during these eruptions are blue-shifted X-ray absorption lines, which are preferentially seen in disc-dominated ‘soft states’ 1,2. By contrast, optical wind-formed lines have recently been detected in ‘hard states’, when a hot corona dominates the luminosity 3. The relationship between these signatures is unknown, and no erupting system has as yet revealed wind-formed lines between the X-ray and optical bands, despite the many strong resonance transitions in this ultraviolet (UV) region 4. Here we report that the transient neutron star binary Swift J1858.6-0814 exhibits wind-formed, blue-shifted absorption lines associated with C iv, N v and He ii in time-resolved UV spectroscopy during a luminous hard state, which we interpret as a warm, moderately ionized outflow component in this state. Simultaneously observed optical lines also display transient blue-shifted absorption. Decomposing the UV data into constant and variable components, the blue-shifted absorption is associated with the former. This implies that the outflow is not associated with the luminous flares in the data. The joint presence of UV and optical wind features reveals a multi-phase and/or spatially stratified evaporative outflow from the outer disc 5. This type of persistent mass loss across all accretion states has been predicted by radiation–hydrodynamic simulations 6 and helps to explain the shorter-than-expected duration of outbursts 7.

0028-0836
52-57
Segura, N. Castro
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Knigge, C.
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Long, K. S.
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Cúneo, V. A.
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Degenaar, N. D.
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Georganti, M.
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Gutiérrez, C.
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Santisteban, J. V. Hernandez
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Jiménez-Ibarra, F.
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Matthews, J.
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Méndez, M.
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Middleton, M.
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Segura, N. Castro
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Knigge, C.
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Georganti, M.
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Segura, N. Castro, Knigge, C., Long, K. S., Altamirano, D., Padilla, M. Armas, Bailyn, C., Buckley, D. A. H., Buisson, D. J. K., Casares, J., Charles, P., Combi, J. A., Cúneo, V. A., Degenaar, N. D., Palacio, S. del, Trigo, M. Díaz, Fender, R., Gandhi, P., Georganti, M., Gutiérrez, C., Santisteban, J. V. Hernandez, Jiménez-Ibarra, F., Matthews, J., Méndez, M., Middleton, M., Muñoz-Darias, T., Arabacı, M. Özbey, Pahari, M., Rhodes, L., Russell, T. D., Scaringi, S., Eijnden, J. van den, Vasilopoulos, G., Vincentelli, F. M. and Wiseman, P. (2022) A persistent ultraviolet outflow from an accreting neutron star binary transient. Nature, 603 (7899), 52-57. (doi:10.1038/s41586-021-04324-2).

Record type: Article

Abstract

All disc-accreting astrophysical objects produce powerful disc winds. In compact binaries containing neutron stars or black holes, accretion often takes place during violent outbursts. The main disc wind signatures during these eruptions are blue-shifted X-ray absorption lines, which are preferentially seen in disc-dominated ‘soft states’ 1,2. By contrast, optical wind-formed lines have recently been detected in ‘hard states’, when a hot corona dominates the luminosity 3. The relationship between these signatures is unknown, and no erupting system has as yet revealed wind-formed lines between the X-ray and optical bands, despite the many strong resonance transitions in this ultraviolet (UV) region 4. Here we report that the transient neutron star binary Swift J1858.6-0814 exhibits wind-formed, blue-shifted absorption lines associated with C iv, N v and He ii in time-resolved UV spectroscopy during a luminous hard state, which we interpret as a warm, moderately ionized outflow component in this state. Simultaneously observed optical lines also display transient blue-shifted absorption. Decomposing the UV data into constant and variable components, the blue-shifted absorption is associated with the former. This implies that the outflow is not associated with the luminous flares in the data. The joint presence of UV and optical wind features reveals a multi-phase and/or spatially stratified evaporative outflow from the outer disc 5. This type of persistent mass loss across all accretion states has been predicted by radiation–hydrodynamic simulations 6 and helps to explain the shorter-than-expected duration of outbursts 7.

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Published date: 2 March 2022
Additional Information: Funding Information: N.C.S. and C.K. acknowledge support from the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), and from STFC grant ST/M001326/1. Partial support for K.S.L.’s effort on the project was provided by NASA through grant numbers HST-GO-15984 and HST-GO-16066 from the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by AURA, Inc., under NASA contract NAS 5-26555. N.C.S. thanks T. Royle for helping to coordinate the time-critical observations in this article. N.D.D. acknowledges support from a Vidi grant for the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). J.V.H.S. acknowledges support from STFC grant ST/R000824/1. M.A.P., J.C., F.J.-I. and T.M.D. acknowledge support from grants AYA2017-83216-P and PID2020-120323GB-I00. T.M.-D. also acknowledges RYC-2015-18148 and EUR2021-122010. T.M.-D. and M.A.P. acknowledge support from grants with references ProID2020010104 and ProID2021010132. J.M. acknowledges a Herchel Smith Fellowship at Cambridge. T.D.R. acknowledges a financial contribution from the agreement ASI-INAF n.2017-14-H.0. J.v.d.E. is supported by a Lee Hysan Junior Research Fellowship from St Hilda’s College, Oxford. G.V. acknowledges support by NASA grants 80NSSC20K1107, 80NSSC20K0803 and 80NSSC21K0213. M.Ö.A. acknowledges support from the Royal Society through the Newton International Fellowship program. J.A.C. acknowledges support from grants PICT-2017-2865 (ANPCyT), PID2019-105510GB-C32/AEI/10.13039/501100011033 and FQM-322, as well as FEDER funds. Publisher Copyright: © 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 455883
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/455883
ISSN: 0028-0836
PURE UUID: 67221478-c4c8-42e3-8ae7-05127ae711ec
ORCID for D. Altamirano: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-3422-0074
ORCID for P. Gandhi: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-3105-2615

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Date deposited: 07 Apr 2022 16:42
Last modified: 21 Jun 2022 01:43

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Contributors

Author: C. Knigge
Author: K. S. Long
Author: D. Altamirano ORCID iD
Author: M. Armas Padilla
Author: C. Bailyn
Author: D. A. H. Buckley
Author: D. J. K. Buisson
Author: J. Casares
Author: P. Charles
Author: J. A. Combi
Author: V. A. Cúneo
Author: N. D. Degenaar
Author: S. del Palacio
Author: M. Díaz Trigo
Author: R. Fender
Author: P. Gandhi ORCID iD
Author: M. Georganti
Author: C. Gutiérrez
Author: J. V. Hernandez Santisteban
Author: F. Jiménez-Ibarra
Author: J. Matthews
Author: M. Méndez
Author: M. Middleton
Author: T. Muñoz-Darias
Author: M. Özbey Arabacı
Author: M. Pahari
Author: L. Rhodes
Author: T. D. Russell
Author: S. Scaringi
Author: J. van den Eijnden
Author: G. Vasilopoulos
Author: F. M. Vincentelli
Author: P. Wiseman

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