Impact of inclination on quasi-periodic oscillations from spiral structures

Abstract : Context. Quasi-periodic oscillations (QPOs) are a common feature of the power spectrums of X-ray binaries. Currently it is not possible to unambiguously differentiate the large number of proposed models to explain these phenomena through existing observations. Aims. We investigate the observable predictions of a simple model that generates flux modulation: a spiral instability rotating in a thin accretion disk. This model is motivated by the accretion ejection instability (AEI) model for low- frequency QPOs (LFQPOs). We are particularly interested in the inclination dependence of the observables that are associated with this model. Methods. We develop a simple analytical model of an accretion disk, which features a spiral instability. The disk is assumed to emit blackbody radiation, which is ray-traced to a distant observer. We compute pulse profiles and power spectra as observed from infinity. Results. We show that the amplitude of the modulation associated with the spiral rotation is a strong function of inclination and frequency. The pulse profile is quasi-sinusoidal only at low inclination (face-on source). As a consequence, a higher-inclination geometry leads to a stronger and more diverse harmonic signature in the power spectrum. Conclusions. We present how the amplitude depends on the inclination when the flux modulation comes from a spiral in the disk. We also include new observables that could potentially differentiate between models, such as the pulse profile and the harmonic content of the power spectra of high-inclination sources that exhibit LFQPOs. These might be important observables to explore with existing and new instruments.
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http://hal.in2p3.fr/in2p3-01298664
Contributor : Peggy Varniere <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, April 6, 2016 - 2:00:41 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, May 14, 2019 - 10:32:10 AM

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P. Varniere, Frédéric Vincent. Impact of inclination on quasi-periodic oscillations from spiral structures. Astronomy and Astrophysics - A&A, EDP Sciences, 2016. ⟨in2p3-01298664⟩

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