EDP Sciences
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Volume 410, Number 1, October IV 2003
Page(s) 217 - 230
Section Stellar atmospheres
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20031141

A&A 410, 217-230 (2003)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20031141

Boundary layer, accretion disk and X-ray variability in the luminous LMXBs

M. Gilfanov1, 2, M. Revnivtsev1, 2 and S. Molkov2

1  Max-Planck-Institute für Astrophysik, Karl-Schwarzschild-Str. 1, 85740 Garching bei München, Germany
2  Space Research Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Profsoyuznaya 84/32, 117810 Moscow, Russia

(Received 29 July 2003 / Accepted 18 July 2003)

Using Fourier frequency resolved X-ray spectroscopy we study short term spectral variability in luminous LMXBs. With RXTE/PCA observations of 4U1608-52 and GX 340+0 on the horizontal/normal branch of the color-intensity diagram we show that aperiodic and quasiperiodic variability on ~second-millisecond time scales is caused primarily by variations of the luminosity of the boundary layer. The emission of the accretion disk is less variable on these time scales and its power density spectrum follows $P_{\rm
disk}(f)\propto f^{-1}$ law, contributing to observed flux variation at low frequencies and low energies only. The kHz QPOs have the same origin as variability at lower frequencies, i.e. independent of the nature of the "clock", the actual luminosity modulation takes place on the neutron star surface.

The boundary layer spectrum remains nearly constant in the course of the luminosity variations and is represented to certain accuracy by the Fourier frequency resolved spectrum. In the considered range $\dot{M}\sim$ (0.1-1) $\dot{M}_{\rm Edd}$ it depends weakly on the global mass accretion rate and in the limit $\dot{M}\sim
\dot{M}_{\rm Edd}$ is close to Wien spectrum with $kT\sim
2.4$  keV (in the distant observer's frame). The spectrum of the accretion disk emission is significantly softer and in the 3-20 keV range is reasonably well described by a relativistic disk model with a mass accretion rate consistent with the value inferred from the observed X-ray flux.

Key words: accretion, accretion disks -- instabilities -- stars: binaries: general -- stars: fundamental parameters -- X-rays: general -- X-rays: stars

Offprint request: M. Gilfanov, gilfanov@mpa-garching.mpg.de

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