Formation of wind-captured disks in supergiant X-ray binaries Consequences for Vela X-1 and Cygnus X-1

  • 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 onContext. 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.show moreshow less

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Author details:Ileyk El Mellah, Andreas Alexander Christoph SanderORCiDGND, Jon Olof Sundqvist, Rony KeppensGND
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/201834498
ISSN:1432-0746
Title of parent work (English):Astronomy and astrophysics : an international weekly journal
Publisher:EDP Sciences
Place of publishing:Les Ulis
Publication type:Article
Language:English
Date of first publication:2019/02/19
Completion year:2019
Release date:2021/04/07
Tag:X-rays: binaries; accretion, accretion disks; stars: black holes; stars: neutron; stars: winds, outflows; supergiants
Volume:622
Page number:12
Funding institution:Research Foundation Flanders (FWO)FWO; European UnionEuropean Union (EU) [665501]; STFCScience & Technology Facilities Council (STFC) [ST/R000565/1]; International Space Science Institute (ISSI), Bern, Switzerland; Hercules foundation; Flemish government
Organizational units:Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Institut für Physik und Astronomie
DDC classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 52 Astronomie / 520 Astronomie und zugeordnete Wissenschaften
Peer review:Referiert
Publishing method:Open Access / Bronze Open-Access