Publications associated with Theoretical Astrophysics & Plasma Physics

Hot, dense He II outflows during the 2017 outburst of the X-ray transient Swift J1357.2−0933

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters Oxford University Press 489 (2019) L47-L52

P Charles, J Matthews, D Buckley, P Gandhi, E Kotze, J Paice

Time-resolved SALT spectra of the short-period, dipping X-ray transient, Swift J1357.2−0933, during its 2017 outburst has revealed broad Balmer and He II λ4686 absorption features, blueshifted by ∼600 km s−1. Remarkably these features are also variable on the ∼500 s dipping period, indicating their likely association with structure in the inner accretion disc. We interpret this as arising in a dense, hot (≳30 000 K) outflowing wind seen at very high inclination, and draw comparisons with other accretion disc corona sources. We argue against previous distance estimates of 1.5 kpc and favour a value ≳6 kpc, implying an X-ray luminosity LX ≳ 4 × 1036 erg s−1. Hence it is not a very faint X-ray transient. Our preliminary 1D Monte Carlo radiative transfer and photoionization calculations support this interpretation, as they imply a high intrinsic LX, a column density NH ≳ 1024 cm−2, and a low covering factor for the wind. Our study shows that Swift J1357.2−0933 is truly remarkable amongst the cohort of luminous, Galactic X-ray binaries, showing the first example of He  II λ4686 absorption, the first (and only) variable dip period and is possibly the first black hole ‘accretion disc corona’ candidate.

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