Journal Article

Jets from black hole X–ray binaries: testing, refining and extending empirical models for the coupling to X–rays

R. P. Fender, J. Homan and T. M. Belloni

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 396, issue 3, pages 1370-1382
Published in print July 2009 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online June 2009 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Jets from black hole X–ray binaries: testing, refining and extending empirical models for the coupling to X–rays

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In this paper we study the relation of radio emission to X–ray spectral and variability properties for a large sample of black hole X–ray binary systems. This is done to test, refine and extend – notably into the timing properties – the previously published ‘unified model’ for the coupling of accretion and ejection in such sources. In 14 outbursts from 11 different sources we find that in every case the peak radio flux, on occasion directly resolved into discrete relativistic ejections, is associated with the bright hard to soft state transition near the peak of the outburst. We also note the association of the radio flaring with periods of X–ray flaring during this transition in most, but not all, of the systems. In the soft state, radio emission is in nearly all cases either undetectable or optically thin, consistent with the suppression of the core jet in these states and ‘relic’ radio emission from interactions of previously ejected material and the ambient medium. However, these data cannot rule out an intermittent, optically thin, jet in the soft state. In attempting to associate X–ray timing properties with the ejection events we find a close, but not exact, correspondence between phases of very low integrated X–ray variability and such ejections. In fact the data suggest that there is not a perfect one–to–one correspondence between the radio, X–ray spectral or X–ray timing properties, suggesting that they may be linked simply as symptoms of the underlying state change and not causally to one another. We further study the sparse data on the reactivation of the jet during the transition back to the hard state in decay phase of outbursts, and find marginal evidence for this in one case only. In summary we find no strong evidence against the originally proposed model, confirming and extending some aspects of it with a much larger sample, but note that several aspects remain poorly tested.

Keywords: ISM: jets and outflows; radio continuum: stars

Journal Article.  9749 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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