Formation of wind-captured disks in supergiant X-ray binaries
Consequences for Vela X-1 and Cygnus X-1
Centre for mathematical Plasma Astrophysics, Department of Mathematics, KU Leuven, Celestijnenlaan 200B, 3001 Leuven, Belgium
2 Armagh Observatory and Planetarium, College Hill, Armagh BT61 9DG, UK
3 Institut für Physik und Astronomie, Universität Potsdam, Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 24/25, 14476 Potsdam, Germany
4 KU Leuven, Instituut voor Sterrenkunde, Celestijnenlaan 200D, 3001 Leuven, Belgium
Accepted: 5 January 2019
Context. In supergiant X-ray binaries (SgXB), a compact object captures a fraction of the wind of an O/B supergiant on a close orbit. Proxies exist to evaluate the efficiency of mass and angular momentum accretion, but they depend so dramatically on the wind speed that given the current uncertainties, they only set loose constraints. Furthermore, these proxies often bypass the impact of orbital and shock effects on the flow structure.
Aims. We study the wind dynamics and angular momentum gained as the flow is accreted. We identify the conditions for the formation of a disk-like structure around the accretor and the observational consequences for SgXB.
Methods. We used recent results on the wind launching mechanism to compute 3D streamlines, accounting for the gravitational and X-ray ionizing influence of the compact companion on the wind. Once the flow enters the Roche lobe of the accretor, we solved the hydrodynamics equations with cooling.
Results. A shocked region forms around the accretor as the flow is beamed. For wind speeds on the order of the orbital speed, the shock is highly asymmetric compared to the axisymmetric bow shock obtained for a purely planar homogeneous flow. With net radiative cooling, the flow always circularizes for sufficiently low wind speeds.
Conclusions. Although the donor star does not fill its Roche lobe, the wind can be significantly beamed and bent by the orbital effects. The net angular momentum of the accreted flow is then sufficient to form a persistent disk-like structure. This mechanism could explain the proposed limited outer extension of the accretion disk in Cygnus X-1 and suggests the presence of a disk at the outer rim of the neutron star magnetosphere in Vela X-1 and has dramatic consequences on the spinning up of the accretor.
Key words: accretion, accretion disks / X-rays: binaries / stars: black holes / stars: neutron / supergiants / stars: winds, outflows
© ESO 2019