Volume 538, February 2012
|Number of page(s)||6|
|Published online||26 January 2012|
Formation and destruction of jets in X-ray binaries
1 University of Crete, Physics Department & Institute of Theoretical & Computational Physics, 71003 Heraklion, Crete, Greece
2 Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas, 71110 Heraklion, Crete, Greece
3 Research Center for Astronomy, Academy of Athens, 11527 Athens, Greece
4 NASA/GSFC, Code 663, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
5 Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA 01854, USA
Received: 8 April 2011
Accepted: 15 November 2011
Context. Neutron-star and black-hole X-ray binaries (XRBs) exhibit radio jets, whose properties depend on the X-ray spectral state and history of the source. In particular, black-hole XRBs emit compact, steady radio jets when they are in the so-called hard state. These jets become eruptive as the sources move toward the soft state, disappear in the soft state, and then re-appear when the sources return to the hard state. The jets from neutron-star X-ray binaries are typically weaker radio emitters than the black-hole ones at the same X-ray luminosity and in some cases radio emission is detected in the soft state.
Aims. Significant phenomenology has been developed to describe the spectral states of neutron-star and black-hole XRBs, and there is general agreement about the type of the accretion disk around the compact object in the various spectral states. We investigate whether the phenomenology describing the X-ray emission on one hand and the jet appearance and disappearance on the other can be put together in a consistent physical picture.
Methods. We consider the so-called Poynting-Robertson cosmic battery (PRCB), which has been shown to explain in a natural way the formation of magnetic fields in the disks of AGNs and the ejection of jets. We investigate whether the PRCB can also explain the formation, destruction, and variability of jets in XRBs.
Results. We find excellent agreement between the conditions under which the PRCB is efficient (i.e., the type of the accretion disk) and the emission or destruction of the radio jet.
Conclusions. The disk-jet connection in XRBs can be explained in a natural way using the PRCB.
Key words: stars: neutron / accretion, accretion disks / black holes physics / X-rays: binaries / magnetic fields
© ESO, 2012
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