Monday, July 1, 2013

1303.1583 (Jeffrey E. McClintock et al.)

Black Hole Spin via Continuum Fitting and the Role of Spin in Powering
Transient Jets

Jeffrey E. McClintock, Ramesh Narayan, James F. Steiner
The spins of ten stellar black holes have been measured using the continuum-fitting method. These black holes are located in two distinct classes of X-ray binary systems, one that is persistently X-ray bright and another that is transient. Both the persistent and transient black holes remain for long periods in a state where their spectra are dominated by a thermal accretion disk component. The spin of a black hole of known mass and distance can be measured by fitting this thermal continuum spectrum to the thin-disk model of Novikov and Thorne; the key fit parameter is the radius of the inner edge of the black hole's accretion disk. Strong observational and theoretical evidence links the inner-disk radius to the radius of the innermost stable circular orbit, which is trivially related to the dimensionless spin parameter a_* of the black hole (|a_*| < 1). The ten spins that have so far been measured by this continuum-fitting method range widely from a_* \approx 0 to a_* > 0.95. The robustness of the method is demonstrated by the dozens or hundreds of independent and consistent measurements of spin that have been obtained for several black holes, and through careful consideration of many sources of systematic error. Among the results discussed is a dichotomy between the transient and persistent black holes; the latter have higher spins and larger masses. Also discussed is recently discovered evidence in the transient sources for a correlation between the power of ballistic jets and black hole spin.
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