X-Ray Spectral Study of the Photoionized Stellar Wind in Vela X-1

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We present results from quantitative modeling and spectral analysis of the high mass X-ray binary system Vela X-1 obtained with the Chandra High Energy Transmission Grating Spectrometer. The observations cover three orbital phase ranges within a single binary orbit. The spectra exhibit emission lines from H-like and He-like ions driven by photoionization, as well as fluorescent emission lines from several elements in lower charge states. The properties of these X-ray lines are measured with the highest accuracy to date. In order to interpret and make full use of the high-quality data, we have developed a simulator, which calculates the ionization ... continued below

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22 pages

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Watanabe, Shin; Sako, Masao; Ishida, Manabu; Ishisaki, Yoshitaka; Kahn, Steven M.; Kohmura, Takayoshi et al. July 10, 2006.

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We present results from quantitative modeling and spectral analysis of the high mass X-ray binary system Vela X-1 obtained with the Chandra High Energy Transmission Grating Spectrometer. The observations cover three orbital phase ranges within a single binary orbit. The spectra exhibit emission lines from H-like and He-like ions driven by photoionization, as well as fluorescent emission lines from several elements in lower charge states. The properties of these X-ray lines are measured with the highest accuracy to date. In order to interpret and make full use of the high-quality data, we have developed a simulator, which calculates the ionization and thermal structure of a stellar wind photoionized by an X-ray source, and performs Monte Carlo simulations of X-ray photons propagating through the wind. The emergent spectra are then computed as a function of the viewing angle accurately accounting for photon transport in three dimensions including dynamics. From comparisons of the observed spectra with results from the simulator, we are able to find the ionization structure and the geometrical distribution of material in the stellar wind of Vela X-1 that can reproduce the observed spectral line intensities and continuum shapes at different orbital phases remarkably well. We find that the stellar wind profile can be represented by a CAK-model with a star mass loss rate of (1.5-2.0) x 10{sup -6} M{sub {circle_dot}} yr{sup -1}, assuming a terminal velocity of 1100 km s{sup -1}. It is found that a large fraction of X-ray emission lines from highly ionized ions are formed in the region between the neutron star and the companion star. We also find that the fluorescent X-ray lines must be produced in at least three distinct regions: (1) the extended stellar wind, (2) reflection off the stellar photosphere, and (3) in a distribution of dense material partially covering and possibly trailing the neutron star, which may be associated with an accretion wake. Finally, from detailed analysis of the emission line profiles, we demonstrate that the stellar wind dynamics is affected by X-ray photoionization.

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22 pages

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  • 11th International Conference in Quantum ChromoDynamics (QCD 04), Montpellier, France, 7/5/2004-7/9/2004

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  • Report No.: SLAC-PUB-11917
  • Grant Number: AC02-76SF00515
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 886790
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc891635

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  • July 10, 2006

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  • Sept. 23, 2016, 2:42 p.m.

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  • July 26, 2017, 11:51 a.m.

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Watanabe, Shin; Sako, Masao; Ishida, Manabu; Ishisaki, Yoshitaka; Kahn, Steven M.; Kohmura, Takayoshi et al. X-Ray Spectral Study of the Photoionized Stellar Wind in Vela X-1, article, July 10, 2006; [Menlo Park, California]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc891635/: accessed December 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.