Probing general relativistic precession around stellar-mass black holes with tomography and polarimetry
Accreting stellar-mass black holes often show a quasi-periodic oscillation (QPO) in their X-ray flux, and an iron emission line in their X-ray spectrum. The iron line is generated through disc reflection, and its shape is distorted by rapid orbital motion and gravitational redshift. The physical origin of the QPO has long been debated, but is often attributed to Lense-Thirring precession, a General Relativistic effect causing the inner flow to precess as the spinning black hole twists up the surrounding space-time. This predicts a characteristic rocking of the iron line between red- and blueshift as the receding and approaching sides of the disc are respectively illuminated. I will first talk about our XMM-Newton and NuSTAR observations of the black hole binary H 1743-322 in which the line energy varies systematically over the ∼ 4 s QPO cycle, as predicted. This result has enabled us to map the inner accretion disc using tomographic techniques for the first time. I will then talk about the quasi-periodic swings in X-ray polarisation angle predicted by the precession model, and show how we can go about measuring such swings with the recently selected NASA Small explorer mission IXPE and proposed missions such as XIPE and eXTP.
The X-ray Universe 2017
- Pub Date:
- October 2017