Volume 519, September 2010
|Number of page(s)||8|
|Published online||09 September 2010|
X-ray variation statistics and wind clumping in Vela X-1
Dr. Karl Remeis-Sternwarte & ECAP, Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Sternwartstr. 7, 96049 Bamberg, Germany e-mail: email@example.com
2 CRESST and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Astrophysics Science Division, Code 661, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
3 Center for Space Science and Technology, University of Maryland Baltimore County, 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, MD 21250, USA
4 Center for Astrophysics & Space Sciences, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA
5 European Space Agency, European Space Astronomy Centre, Villafranca del Castillo, PO Box 78, 28691 Villanueva de la Cañada, Madrid, Spain
6 Center for Space Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
7 Kepler Center for Astro and Particle Physics, Institut für Astronomie und Astrophysik, Universität Tübingen, Sand 1, 72076 Tübingen, Germany
Accepted: 19 May 2010
We investigate the structure of the wind in the neutron star X-ray binary system Vela X-1 by analyzing its flaring behavior. Vela X-1 shows constant flaring, with some flares reaching fluxes of more than 3.0 Crab between 20–60 keV for several 100 s, while the average flux is around 250 mCrab. We analyzed all archival INTEGRAL data, calculating the brightness distribution in the 20–60 keV band, which, as we show, closely follows a log-normal distribution. Orbital resolved analysis shows that the structure is strongly variable, explainable by shocks and a fluctuating accretion wake. Analysis of RXTE ASM data suggests a strong orbital change of NH. Accreted clump masses derived from the INTEGRAL data are on the order of 5 × 1019 – 1021 g. We show that the lightcurve can be described with a model of multiplicative random numbers. In the course of the simulation we calculate the power spectral density of the system in the 20–100 keV energy band and show that it follows a red-noise power law. We suggest that a mixture of a clumpy wind, shocks, and turbulence can explain the measured mass distribution. As the recently discovered class of supergiant fast X-ray transients (SFXT) seems to show the same parameters for the wind, the link between persistent HMXB like Vela X-1 and SFXT is further strengthened.
Key words: accretion, accretion disks / X-rays: binaries / X-rays: individuals: Vela X-1 / methods: statistical
© ESO, 2010
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