Previous abstract Next abstract

Session 44 - Stellar X-Ray Sources.
Display session, Tuesday, January 14
Metropolitan Ballroom,

[44.11] Sonic-Point Model of Kilohertz QPOs in LMXBs

M. C. Miller (U. Chicago), F. K. Lamb, D. Psaltis (U. Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Quasi-periodic brightness oscillations with frequencies in the range 500--1200 Hz have recently been discovered in seven low-mass X-ray binaries. These oscillations are very strong, with rms amplitudes ranging up to \sim 20%, and are remarkably coherent, with \nu/\Delta\nu ratios as high as \sim 200. A pair of high-frequency QPOs has been detected in four of the seven sources. Here we propose a model for these kilohertz quasi-periodic oscillations in which the higher (\sim 900 -- 1200 Hz) frequency is the Keplerian frequency \nu_Ks at the sonic point at the inner edge of the Keplerian disk and the lower (\sim 600 -- 800 Hz) frequency is the beat between \nu_Ks and the \sim 150 -- 500 Hz spin frequency \nu_spin of a weakly magnetic (B_s \sim 10^7 - 10^9 G) neutron star. If the magnetic field of the neutron star is too weak (B_s \ll 10^7 G) or the mass accretion rate is too low, this beat frequency may not be visible. This model is consistent with the magnetic fields, accretion rates, and scattering optical depths inferred from previous modeling of the X-ray spectra and rapid X-ray variability of the atoll and Z sources, and explains naturally the observed frequencies of the kilohertz QPOs, their large amplitude and high coherence, and the steep increase of their amplitudes with photon energy. If the sonic-point origin of these QPOs is confirmed, measurements of kilohertz quasi-periodic oscillation frequencies in LMXBs will provide new bounds on the masses of neutron stars and new constraints on the equation of state of matter at high densities.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract:

Program listing for Tuesday