Hard X-ray emission from compact objects has been considered a spectral signature of black hole candidates. However, SIGMA and BATSE recently detected transient emission in the energy range 30-200keV from several X-ray bursters (XRBs) believed to contain weakly magnetized neutron stars. At least seven XRBs (including Aquila X-1 and 4U 1608-52) are currently known to produce erratic hard X-ray outbursts with typical durations of several weeks. These results lead us to reconsider theoretical models of high-energy emission from compact objects, and in particular thermal Comptonization models vs. non-thermal models of particle energization and X-ray emission from weakly magnetized neutron stars. We summarize here recent results for magnetic field reconnection models of non-thermal particle acceleration and high-energy emission of accretion disks. For intermediate soft X-ray luminosities below the Eddington limit, non-thermal hard X-ray emission is predicted to have a (broken) power-law spectrum with intensity anticorrelated with the soft X-ray luminosity. Recent GINGA/BATSE data for the XRB 4U 1608-52 are in agreement with the mechanism of emission proposed here: transient hard X-ray emission consistent with a broken power-law spectrum was detected for a sub-Eddington soft X-ray luminosity.
Astronomy and Astrophysics Supplement Series
- Pub Date:
- November 1996
- X-RAYS: STARS;
- X-RAYS: BURSTS;
- ACCELERATION OF PARTICLES;
- STARS: INDIVIDUAL: 4U 1608-52