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Title: Short-term variability of X-rays from accreting neutron star Vela X-1. II. Monte Carlo modeling

We develop a Monte Carlo Comptonization model for the X-ray spectrum of accretion-powered pulsars. Simple, spherical, thermal Comptonization models give harder spectra for higher optical depth, while the observational data from Vela X-1 show that the spectra are harder at higher luminosity. This suggests a physical interpretation where the optical depth of the accreting plasma increases with the mass accretion rate. We develop a detailed Monte Carlo model of the accretion flow, including the effects of the strong magnetic field (∼10{sup 12} G), both in geometrically constraining the flow into an accretion column and in reducing the cross section. We treat bulk-motion Comptonization of the infalling material as well as thermal Comptonization. These model spectra can match the observed broadband Suzaku data from Vela X-1 over a wide range of mass accretion rates. The model can also explain the so-called 'low state' in which the luminosity decreases by an order of magnitude. Here, thermal Comptonization should be negligible, so the spectrum is instead dominated by bulk-motion Comptonization.
Authors:
; ; ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [3]
  1. Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), 3-1-1 Yoshinodai, Chuo, Sagamihara, Kanagawa 252-5210 (Japan)
  2. Hiroshima Astrophysical Science Center, Hiroshima University, 1-3-1 Kagamiyama, Higashi-Hiroshima, Hiroshima 739-8526 (Japan)
  3. Department of Physics, University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo, Tokyo 113-0033 (Japan)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22348332
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 780; Journal Issue: 1; 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; COMPUTERIZED SIMULATION; CROSS SECTIONS; LUMINOSITY; MAGNETIC FIELDS; MASS; MONTE CARLO METHOD; NEUTRON STARS; NEUTRONS; PLASMA; PULSARS; SPHERICAL CONFIGURATION; X RADIATION; X-RAY SPECTRA