skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: SWIFT J1910.2-0546: A possible black hole binary with a retrograde spin or truncated disk

Abstract

We present the first results from a long (51 ks) XMM-Newton observation of the Galactic X-ray binary SWIFT J1910.2-0546 in an intermediate state, obtained during its 2012 outburst. A clear, asymmetric iron emission line is observed and physically motivated models are used to fully describe the emission-line profile. Unlike other sources in their intermediate spectral states, the inner accretion disk in SWIFT J1910.2-0546 appears to be truncated, with an inner radius of r {sub in} =9.4{sub −1.3}{sup +1.7} r {sub g} at a 90% confidence limit. Quasi-periodic oscillations are also found at approximately 4.5 and 6 Hz, which correlates well with the break frequency of the underlying broad-band noise. Assuming that the line emission traces the innermost stable circular orbit, as would generally be expected for an intermediate state, the current observation of SWIFT J1910.2-0546 may offer the best evidence for a possible retrograde stellar mass black hole with a spin parameter a < – 0.32cJ/GM{sup 2} (90% confidence). Although this is an intriguing possibility, there are also a number of alternative scenarios which do not require a retrograde spin. For example, the inner accretion disk may be truncated at an unusually high luminosity in this case, potentially suffering frequentmore » evaporation/condensation, or it could instead be persistently evacuated through mass loss in a relativistic jet. Further observations are required to distinguish between these different interpretations.« less

Authors:
; ; ; ; ;  [1];  [2]
  1. Department of Astronomy, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109 (United States)
  2. Space Radiation Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22341886
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 778; Journal Issue: 2; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; ACCRETION DISKS; APPROXIMATIONS; ASYMMETRY; BLACK HOLES; EMISSION; EVAPORATION; INTERMEDIATE STATE; IRON; LUMINOSITY; MASS TRANSFER; ORBITS; OSCILLATIONS; PERIODICITY; RELATIVISTIC RANGE; SPIN; STELLAR WINDS; X RADIATION

Citation Formats

Reis, R. C., Reynolds, M. T., Miller, J. M., Maitra, D., King, A., Degenaar, N., and Walton, D. J. SWIFT J1910.2-0546: A possible black hole binary with a retrograde spin or truncated disk. United States: N. p., 2013. Web. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/778/2/155.
Reis, R. C., Reynolds, M. T., Miller, J. M., Maitra, D., King, A., Degenaar, N., & Walton, D. J. SWIFT J1910.2-0546: A possible black hole binary with a retrograde spin or truncated disk. United States. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/778/2/155.
Reis, R. C., Reynolds, M. T., Miller, J. M., Maitra, D., King, A., Degenaar, N., and Walton, D. J. Sun . "SWIFT J1910.2-0546: A possible black hole binary with a retrograde spin or truncated disk". United States. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/778/2/155.
@article{osti_22341886,
title = {SWIFT J1910.2-0546: A possible black hole binary with a retrograde spin or truncated disk},
author = {Reis, R. C. and Reynolds, M. T. and Miller, J. M. and Maitra, D. and King, A. and Degenaar, N. and Walton, D. J.},
abstractNote = {We present the first results from a long (51 ks) XMM-Newton observation of the Galactic X-ray binary SWIFT J1910.2-0546 in an intermediate state, obtained during its 2012 outburst. A clear, asymmetric iron emission line is observed and physically motivated models are used to fully describe the emission-line profile. Unlike other sources in their intermediate spectral states, the inner accretion disk in SWIFT J1910.2-0546 appears to be truncated, with an inner radius of r {sub in} =9.4{sub −1.3}{sup +1.7} r {sub g} at a 90% confidence limit. Quasi-periodic oscillations are also found at approximately 4.5 and 6 Hz, which correlates well with the break frequency of the underlying broad-band noise. Assuming that the line emission traces the innermost stable circular orbit, as would generally be expected for an intermediate state, the current observation of SWIFT J1910.2-0546 may offer the best evidence for a possible retrograde stellar mass black hole with a spin parameter a < – 0.32cJ/GM{sup 2} (90% confidence). Although this is an intriguing possibility, there are also a number of alternative scenarios which do not require a retrograde spin. For example, the inner accretion disk may be truncated at an unusually high luminosity in this case, potentially suffering frequent evaporation/condensation, or it could instead be persistently evacuated through mass loss in a relativistic jet. Further observations are required to distinguish between these different interpretations.},
doi = {10.1088/0004-637X/778/2/155},
journal = {Astrophysical Journal},
number = 2,
volume = 778,
place = {United States},
year = {Sun Dec 01 00:00:00 EST 2013},
month = {Sun Dec 01 00:00:00 EST 2013}
}
  • After a careful analysis of the instrumental effects on the Poisson noise to demonstrate the feasibility of detailed stochastic variability studies with the Swift X-Ray Telescope (XRT), we analyze the variability of the black hole X-ray binary SWIFT J1753.5-0127 in all XRT observations during 2005-2010. We present the evolution of the power spectral components along the outburst in two energy bands: soft (0.5-2 keV) and hard (2-10 keV), and in the hard band we find results consistent with those from the Rossi X-Ray Timing Explorer (RXTE). The advantage of the XRT is that we can also explore the soft bandmore » not covered by RXTE. The source has previously been suggested to host an accretion disk extending down to close to the black hole in the low hard state, and to show low-frequency variability in the soft-band intrinsic to this disk. Our results are consistent with this, with stronger low-frequency variability at low intensities in the soft than in the hard band. From our analysis, we are able to present the first measurements of the soft-band variability in the peak of the outburst. We find the soft band to be less variable than the hard band, especially at high frequencies, opposite to what is seen at low intensity. Both results can be explained within the framework of a simple two emission-region model where the hot flow is more variable in the peak of the outburst and the disk is more variable at low intensities.« less
  • We re-examine archival Ginga data for the black hole binary system GS 1124–683, obtained when the system was undergoing its 1991 outburst. Our analysis estimates the dimensionless spin parameter a {sub *} = cJ/GM{sup 2} by fitting the X-ray continuum spectra obtained while the system was in the ''thermal dominant'' state. For likely values of mass and distance, we find the spin to be a{sub ∗}=−0.25{sub −0.64}{sup +0.05} (90% confidence), implying that the disk is retrograde (i.e., rotating antiparallel to the spin axis of the black hole). We note that this measurement would be better constrained if the distance tomore » the binary and the mass of the black hole were more accurately determined. This result is unaffected by the model used to fit the hard component of the spectrum. In order to be able to recover a prograde spin, the mass of the black hole would need to be at least 15.25 M {sub ☉}, or the distance would need to be less than 4.5 kpc, both of which disagree with previous determinations of the black hole mass and distance. If we allow f {sub col} to be free, we obtain no useful spin constraint. We discuss our results in the context of recent spin measurements and implications for jet production.« less
  • The broad-line radio galaxy 3C120 is a powerful source of both X-ray and radio emission including superluminal jet outflows. We report on our reanalysis of 160 ks of Suzaku data taken in 2006, previously examined by Kataoka et al. Spectral fits to the X-ray Imaging Spectrometer and Hard X-ray Detector/positive intrinsic negative data over a range of 0.7-45 keV reveal a well-defined iron K line complex with a narrow K{alpha} core and relativistically broadened features consistent with emission from the inner regions of the accretion disk. Furthermore, the inner region of the disk appears to be truncated, with an innermore » radius of r{sub in} = 11.7{sup +3.5}{sub -5.2} r{sub g} . If we assume that fluorescent iron line features terminate at the inner-most stable circular orbit (ISCO), then we measure a black hole spin of a-hat < -0.1 at a 90% confidence level. A rapidly spinning prograde black hole ( a-hat > 0.8) can be ruled out at the 99% confidence level. Alternatively, the disk may be truncated well outside of the ISCO of a rapid prograde hole. The most compelling scenario is the possibility that the inner regions of the disk were destroyed/ejected by catastrophic instabilities just prior to the time these observations were made.« less
  • We report on the detection and follow-up high-cadence monitoring observations of MAXI J1659-152, a bright Galactic X-ray binary transient with a likely black hole accretor, by Swift over a 27 day period after its initial outburst detection. MAXI J1659-152 was discovered almost simultaneously by Swift and the Monitor of All-sky X-ray Image on 2010 September 25, and was monitored intensively from the early stages of the outburst through the rise to a brightness of {approx}0.5 Crab by the Swift X-ray, UV/Optical, and the hard X-ray Burst Alert Telescopes. We present temporal and spectral analysis of the Swift observations. The broadbandmore » light curves show variability characteristic of black hole candidate transients. We present the evolution of thermal and non-thermal components of the 0.5-150 keV combined X-ray spectra during the outburst. MAXI J1659-152 displays accretion state changes typically associated with black hole binaries, transitioning from its initial detection in the hard state, to the steep power-law state, followed by a slow evolution toward the thermal state, signified by an increasingly dominant thermal component associated with the accretion disk, although this state change did not complete before Swift observations ended. We observe an anti-correlation between the increasing temperature and decreasing radius of the inner edge of the accretion disk, suggesting that the inner edge of the accretion disk infalls toward the black hole as the disk temperature increases. We observed significant evolution in the absorption column during the initial rise of the outburst, with the absorption almost doubling, suggestive of the presence of an evolving wind from the accretion disk. We detect quasi-periodic oscillations that evolve with the outburst, as well as irregular shaped dips that recur with a period of 2.42 {+-} 0.09 hr, strongly suggesting an orbital period that would make MAXI J1659-152 the shortest period black hole binary yet known.« less
  • Understanding how black holes accrete and supply feedback to their environment is one of the outstanding challenges of modern astrophysics. Swift J1910.2-0546 is a candidate black hole low-mass X-ray binary that was discovered in 2012 when it entered an accretion outburst. To investigate the binary configuration and the accretion morphology, we monitored the evolution of the outburst for ≅3 months at X-ray, UV, optical (B, V, R, I), and near-infrared (J, H, K) wavelengths using Swift and SMARTS. The source evolved from a hard to a soft X-ray spectral state with a relatively cold accretion disk that peaked at ≅0.5more » keV. A Chandra/HETG spectrum obtained during this soft state did not reveal signatures of an ionized disk wind. Both the low disk temperature and the absence of a detectable wind could indicate that the system is viewed at relatively low inclination. The multi-wavelength light curves revealed two notable features that appear to be related to X-ray state changes. First, a prominent flux decrease was observed in all wavebands ≅ 1-2 weeks before the source entered the soft state. This dip occurred in (0.6-10 keV) X-rays ≅ 6 days later than at longer wavelengths, which could possibly reflect the viscous timescale of the disk. Second, about two weeks after the source transitioned back into the hard state, the UV emission significantly increased while the X-rays steadily decayed. We discuss how these observations may reflect changes in the accretion morphology, perhaps related to the quenching/launch of a jet or the collapse/recovery of a hot flow.« less