Optical spectroscopy of the Be/X-ray binary V850 Centauri/GX 304-1 during faint X-ray periodical activity
1 Institut für Astronomie und Astrophysik, Sand 1, 72076 Tübingen, Germany
2 Institut für Astrophysik, Universität Göttingen, Friedrich-Hund Platz 1, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
3 Maynooth University Department of Experimental Physics, National University of Ireland Maynooth, Maynooth Co. Kildare, Ireland
4 Institute of High Energy Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 100049 Beijing, PR China
5 Department of Astronomy, University of Cape Town, Private Bag X3, 7701 Rondebosch, South Africa
6 South African Astronomical Observatory, PO Box 9, Observatory, 7935 Cape Town, South Africa
7 ISDC Data Center for Astrophysics, Université de Genève, 16 chemin d’Écogia, 1290 Versoix, Switzerland
Received: 31 January 2017
Accepted: 25 April 2017
Context. Be/X-ray binaries (BeXRBs) are the most populous class of high-mass X-ray binaries. Their X-ray duty cycle is tightly related to the optical companion wind activity, which in turn can be studied through dedicated optical spectroscopic observations.
Aims. We study optical spectral features of the Be circumstellar disk to test their long-term variability and their relation with the X-ray activity. Special attention has been given to the Hα emission line, one of the best tracers of the disk conditions.
Methods. We obtained optical broadband medium resolution spectra from a dedicated campaign with the Anglo-Australian Telescope and the Southern African Large Telescope in 2014−2015. Data span over one entire binary orbit, and cover both X-ray quiescent and moderately active periods. We used Balmer emission lines to follow the evolution of the circumstellar disk.
Results. We observe prominent spectral features, like double-peaked Hα and Hβ emission lines. The HαV/R ratio significantly changes over a timescale of about one year. Our observations are consistent with a system observed at a large inclination angle (i ≳ 60°). The derived circumstellar disk size shows that the disk evolves from a configuration that prevents accretion onto the neutron star, to one that allows only moderate accretion. This is in agreement with the contemporary observed X-ray activity. Our results are interpreted within the context of inefficient tidal truncation of the circumstellar disk, as expected for this source’s binary configuration. We derived the Hβ-emitting region size, which is equal to about half of the corresponding Hα-emitting disk, and constrain the luminosity class of V850 Cen as III–V, consistent with the previously proposed class.
Key words: stars: individual: V850 Cen / stars: individual: GX 304-1 / stars: emission-line, Be / stars: neutron / X-rays: binaries
© ESO, 2017