EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 402, Number 1, April IV 2003
Page(s) 237 - 246
Section Stellar atmospheres
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20030148

A&A 402, 237-246 (2003)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20030148

Variability of the H $\alpha$ emission of Cygnus X-1 and its connection with the soft X-ray radiation

A. E. Tarasov1, C. Brocksopp2 and V. M. Lyuty3

1  Crimean Astrophysical Observatory and Isaac Newton Institute of Chile, Crimean branch, 98409 Nauchny, Crimea, Ukraine
2  Astrophysics Research Institute, Liverpool John Moores University, Twelve Quays House, Egerton Wharf, Birkenhead CH41 1LD, UK
3  Sternberg Astronomical Institute, Universitetskii pr. 13, Moscow, 119899 Russia

(Received 9 July 2002 / Accepted 28 January 2003 )

High-resolution H $\alpha$ monitoring of Cyg X-1, HD 226868 was carried out during 1996-2002 and the resultant spectra analysed in conjunction with 1.5-12 keV X-ray monitoring. We demonstrate that the H $\alpha$ line-profiles have complex variability on different timescales, controlled in particular by the orbital period and the focused wind model of mass loss. We find that long-term variability of the mass loss by the supergiant and short-term variability due to clumpy structure of the stellar wind dominate during the low/hard X-ray state and that X-ray photoionization has a relatively small influence on the line-profile shape and EW variability. During the high/soft X-ray state and flaring the effect of photoionization the line-profile and EW of H $\alpha$ increases but is still unable to describe the loose anti-correlation between EW and the low energy X-ray emission. We propose that variability of the mass loss by the supergiant can change wind velocities in the Strömgren zone around the accretion disc of the secondary, leading to an increase in accretion rate through the disc.

Key words: binaries: spectroscopic -- stars: early-type -- stars: winds, outflows -- stars: individual: HD 226868, Cyg X-1 -- X-rays: binaries

Offprint request: A. E. Tarasov, tarasov@crao.crimea.ua

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