Journal Article

X-ray irradiation in XTE J1817−330 and the inner radius of the truncated disc in the hard state

Marek Gierliński, Chris Done and Kim Page

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 388, issue 2, pages 753-760
Published in print August 2008 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online July 2008 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
X-ray irradiation in XTE J1817−330 and the inner radius of the truncated disc in the hard state

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The key aspect of the very successful truncated disc model for the low/hard X-ray spectral state in black hole binaries is that the geometrically thin disc recedes from the last stable orbit at the transition to this state. This has recently been challenged by direct observations of the low/hard state disc from CCD data. We reanalyse the Swift and RXTE campaign covering the 2006 outburst of XTE J1817−330, and show that these data actually strongly support the truncated disc model as the transition spectra unambiguously show that the disc begins to recede as the source leaves the disc-dominated soft state. The disc radius inferred for the proper low/hard state is less clear-cut, but we show that the effect of irradiation from the energetically dominant hot plasma leads to an underestimate of the disc radius by a factor of 2–3 in this state. This may also produce the soft excess reported in some hard-state spectra. The inferred radius becomes still larger when the potential difference in stress at the inner boundary, increased colour temperature correction from incomplete thermalization of the irradiation, and loss of observable disc photons from Comptonization in the hot plasma is taken into account. We conclude that the inner disc radius in XTE J1817−330 in the low/hard spectral state is at least six to eight times that seen in the disc-dominated high/soft state, and that recession of the inner disc is the trigger for the soft-hard-state transition, as predicted by the truncated disc models.

Keywords: accretion, accretion discs; X-rays: binaries

Journal Article.  6350 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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