Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc., 448, 3339-3347 (2015/April-3)
Power colours: simple X-ray binary variability comparison.
HEIL L.M., UTTLEY P. and KLEIN-WOLT M.
Abstract (from CDS):
We demonstrate a new method of variability classification using observations of black hole X-ray binaries. Using `power colours' - ratios of integrated power in different Fourier frequency bands - we can clearly differentiate different canonical black hole states as the objects evolve during outburst. We analyse ( ∼ 2400) Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer observations of 12 transient low-mass black hole X-ray binaries and find that the path taken around the power colour-colour diagram as the sources evolve is highly consistent from object to object. We discuss how the consistency observed in the power colour-colour diagram between different objects allows for easy state classification based on only a few observations, and show how the power-spectral shapes can be simply classified using a single parameter, the power-spectral `hue'. To illustrate the benefits of our simple model-independent approach, we show that the persistent high-mass X-ray binary Cyg X-1 shows very similar power-spectral evolution to the transient black hole sources, with the main difference being caused by a combination of a lack of quasi-periodic oscillations and an excess of low-frequency power-law noise in the Cyg X-1 power spectra during the transitional state. We also compare the transient objects to the neutron star atoll source Aquila X-1, demonstrating that it traces a different path in the power colour-colour plot. Thus, power colours could be an effective method to classify newly discovered X-ray binaries.