Yet more on the circumbinary disk of SS 433
University of Oxford, Department of Physics, Keble Road, Oxford, OX1 3RH, UK
Received: 1 April 2013
Accepted: 19 July 2013
Context. Certain lines in spectra of the Galactic microquasar SS 433, in particular the Hα line and He I, have been interpreted as emission from a circumbinary disk. In this interpretation the orbital speed of the glowing material is in excess of 200 km s-1 and the mass of the binary system in excess of 40 M⊙. The data show that He I emission fades much faster than Hα. This requirement has been incorporated into successful heuristic models yet has remained unexplained hitherto.
Aims. We present a model in which the different characteristics of the Hα and He I lines are naturally explained by the different ionization potentials of the atoms.
Methods. A model was constructed in which the emission of any given patch of putative circumbinary disk material is determined both by its illumination and the depth of the ionization zone.
Results. The depth of the ionization zones depend on the illumination with photons above ionization thresholds, much higher for He than for H. Thus in the new model the emission distribution round the ring is more uniform for Hα recombination lines than for He I. The new model provides an excellent description of the observations, including Hα intensity. The variations of the Hα and He I spectra with orbital phase are described quantitatively.
Conclusions. The new model makes no appeal to ad hoc decay parameters and locates the differences between Hα and He I spectra in the different ionization potentials. If the circumbinary disk scenario is essentially correct, as now seems even more likely, the mass of the binary system must exceed 40 M⊙ and the compact object must be a rather massive stellar black hole.
Key words: stars: individual: SS 433 / binaries: close / circumstellar matter
© ESO, 2013