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Modelling the energy dependence of black hole binary flows.

Mahmoud, Ra'ad D. and Done, Chris (2018) 'Modelling the energy dependence of black hole binary flows.', Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society., 473 (2). pp. 2084-2097.


We build a full spectral-timing model for the low/hard state of black hole binaries assuming that the spectrum of the X-ray hot flow can be produced by two Comptonization zones. Slow fluctuations generated at the largest radii/softest spectral region of the flow propagate down to modulate the faster fluctuations produced in the spectrally harder region close to the black hole. The observed spectrum and variability are produced by summing over all regions in the flow, including its emission reflected from the truncated disc. This produces energy-dependent Fourier lags qualitatively similar to those in the data. Given a viscous frequency prescription, the model predicts Fourier power spectral densities and lags for any energy bands. We apply this model to archival Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer data from Cyg X-1, using the time-averaged energy spectrum together with an assumed emissivity to set the radial bounds of the soft and hard Comptonization regions. We find that the power spectra cannot be described by any smooth model of generating fluctuations, instead requiring that there are specific radii in the flow where noise is preferentially produced. We also find fluctuation damping between spectrally distinct regions is required to prevent all the variability power generated at large radii being propagated into the inner regions. Even with these additions, we can fit either the power spectra at each energy or the lags between energy bands, but not both. We conclude that either the spectra are more complex than two zone models, or that other processes are important in forming the variability.

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Publisher statement:This article has been accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society ©: 2017 The Author(s) Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
Date accepted:08 September 2017
Date deposited:16 February 2018
Date of first online publication:13 September 2017
Date first made open access:16 February 2018

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