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2013ApJ...769...16R - Astrophys. J., 769, 16 (2013/May-3)

A Swift survey of accretion onto stellar-mass black holes.


Abstract (from CDS):

We present a systemic analysis of all of the stellar-mass black hole binaries (confirmed and candidate) observed by the Swift observatory up to 2010 June. The broad Swift bandpass enables a trace of disk evolution over an unprecedented range in flux and temperature. The final data sample consists of 476 X-ray spectra containing greater than 100 counts, in the 0.6-10 keV band. This is the largest sample of high-quality CCD spectra of accreting black holes published to date. In addition, strictly simultaneous data at optical/UV wavelengths are available for 255 (54%) of these observations. The data are modeled with a combination of an accretion disk and a hard spectral component. For the hard component we consider both a simple power-law model and a thermal Comptonization model. An accretion disk is detected at greater than the 5σ confidence level in 61% of the observations. Light curves and color-color diagrams are constructed for each system. Hardness-luminosity and disk fraction-luminosity diagrams are constructed and are observed to be consistent with those typically observed by RXTE, noting the sensitivity below 2 keV provided by Swift. The observed spectra have an average luminosity of ∼1% Eddington, though we are sensitive to accretion disks down to a luminosity of 10–3 LEdd. Thus, this is also the largest sample of such cool accretion disks studied to date. The accretion disk temperature distribution displays two peaks consistent with the classical hard and soft spectral states, with a smaller number of disks distributed between these. The distribution of inner disk radii is observed to be continuous regardless of which model is used to fit the hard continua. There is no evidence for large-scale truncation of the accretion disk in the hard state (at least for Lx ≳ 10–3 L Edd), with all of the accretion disks having radii ≲ 40 Rg. Plots of the accretion disk inner radius versus hardness ratio reveal the disk radius to be decreasing as the spectrum hardens, i.e., enters the hard state. This is in contrast to expectations from the standard disk truncation paradigm and points toward a contribution from spectral hardening. The availability of simultaneous X-ray and optical/UV data for a subset of observations facilitates a critical examination of the role of disk irradiation via a modified disk model with a variable emissivity profile (i.e., T(r)∝r –p ). The broadband spectra (X-ray-optical/UV) reveal irradiation of the accretion disk to be an important effect at all luminosities sampled herein, i.e., p ≲ 0.75 for luminosities ≳ 10–3 LEdd. The accretion disk is found to dominate the UV emission irrespective of the assumed hard spectral component. Overall, we find the broadband soft-state spectra to be consistent with an irradiated accretion disk plus a corona, but we are unable to make conclusive statements regarding the nature of the hard-state accretion flow (e.g., ADAF/corona versus jet). Finally, the Swift data reveal a relation between the flux emitted by the accretion disk and that emitted by the corona, for this sample of stellar-mass black holes, that is found to be in broad agreement with the observed disk-corona relationship in Seyfert galaxies, suggesting a scale invariant coupling between the accretion disk and the corona.

Abstract Copyright:

Journal keyword(s): accretion, accretion disks - black hole physics - X-rays: binaries

Simbad objects: 32

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