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Title: ON THE ROLE AND ORIGIN OF NONTHERMAL ELECTRONS IN HOT ACCRETION FLOWS

We study the X-ray spectra of tenuous, two-temperature accretion flows using a model involving an exact, Monte Carlo computation of the global Comptonization effect as well as a general relativistic description of both the flow structure and radiative processes. In our previous work, we found that in flows surrounding supermassive black holes, thermal synchrotron radiation is not capable of providing a sufficient seed photon flux to explain the X-ray spectral indices as well as the cut-off energies measured in several best-studied active galactic nuclei (AGNs). In this work, we complete the model by including seed photons provided by nonthermal synchrotron radiation and we find that it allows us to reconcile the hot flow model with the AGN data. We take into account two possible sources of nonthermal electrons. First, we consider e {sup ±} produced by charged-pion decay, which should always be present in the innermost part of a two-temperature flow due to proton-proton interactions. We find that for a weak heating of thermal electrons (small δ) the synchrotron emission of pion-decay e {sup ±} is much stronger than the thermal synchrotron emission in the considered range of bolometric luminosities, L ∼ (10{sup –4}-10{sup –2}) L {sub Edd}. The small-δmore » model including hadronic effects, in general, agrees with the AGN data, except for the case of a slowly rotating black hole and a thermal distribution of protons. For large δ, the pion-decay e {sup ±} have a negligible effect and, in this model, we consider nonthermal electrons produced by direct acceleration. We find an approximate agreement with the AGN data for the fraction of the heating power of electrons, which is used for the nonthermal acceleration η ∼ 0.1. However, for constant η and δ, the model predicts a positive correlation of the X-ray spectral index with the Eddington ratio, and hence a fine tuning of η and/or δ with the accretion rate is required to explain the negative correlation observed at low luminosities. We note a significant difference between the dependence of plasma parameters, T {sub e} and τ, on the Eddington ratio that is predicted by the large- and small-δ models. This may be the key property allowing for the estimation of the value of δ. However, a precise measurement of the spectral cut-off is required, and we note that differences between results available in the literature are similar in magnitude to the difference between the model predictions. In flows surrounding stellar-mass black holes, the synchrotron emission of pion-decay e {sup ±} exceeds the thermal synchrotron only above ∼0.01 L {sub Edd}. Furthermore, in such flows, the nonthermal synchrotron radiation is emitted at energies of ≳ 1 keV, and therefore the Compton cooling is less efficient than in flows surrounding supermassive black holes. This may explain spectral differences between AGNs and black-hole transients around ∼0.01 L {sub Edd} (the latter being typically much harder)« less
Authors:
;  [1] ;  [2]
  1. Department of Astrophysics, University of Łódź, Pomorska 149/153, 90-236 Łódź (Poland)
  2. Key Laboratory for Research in Galaxies and Cosmology, Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 80 Nandan Road, Shanghai 200030 (China)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22364303
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 799; 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; ACCELERATION; ACCRETION DISKS; APPROXIMATIONS; BLACK HOLES; BOLOMETERS; CORRELATIONS; ELECTRONS; FLOW MODELS; GALAXIES; GALAXY NUCLEI; INDEXES; KEV RANGE; LUMINOSITY; MASS; MONTE CARLO METHOD; PIONS; PLASMA; RELATIVISTIC RANGE; SYNCHROTRON RADIATION; X-RAY SPECTRA