X-ray spectroscopic and timing studies of galactic black hole binaries
Author(s)Miller, Jon Matthew, 1975-
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Physics.
Walter H.G. Lewin.
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In rare cases, optical observations of Galactic binary star systems which are bright in the X-ray portion of the electromagnetic spectrum dynamically constrain the mass of one component to be well above theoretical limits for a neutron star. These systems - and systems with similar X-ray properties - are classified as black hole binaries. In this thesis, I report on observations of black hole binaries made with satellite observatories in the X-ray band. The region closest to the black hole is revealed in X-rays due to the viscous heating of matter that is accreted from the companion star. X-ray observations of these systems may therefore reveal General Relativistic effects. A fundamental and testable prediction of General Relativity is that matter may orbit more closely around black holes with significant angular momentum. I have investigated the possibility of black hole "spin" and the geometry of accretion flows in these systems using X-ray continuum spectroscopy, fast variability studies, and the shape of iron fluorescent emission lines in this band. I present evidence for black hole spin in XTE J1550-564, XTE J1650-500, and XTE J1748-248. Spin is not required by high-resolution spectral analysis of the archetypical Galactic black hole - Cygnus X-1 but a thermal accretion disk plus hot corona geometry is confirmed. Studies of XTE J1118+480 and GRS 1758-258 at low X-ray luminosity reveal that models for radiatively-inefficient accretion do not satisfactorily describe the geometry in these systems.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Physics, 2002.Includes bibliographical references (p. 183).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Physics.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology