Accretion geometry in the persistent Be/X-ray binary RXJ0440.9+4431





Citation of Original Publication

Ferrigno, C., R. Farinelli, E. Bozzo, K. Pottschmidt, D. Klochkov, and P. Kretschmar. “Accretion Geometry in the Persistent Be/X-Ray Binary RXJ0440.9+4431.” EPJ Web of Conferences 64 (2014): 06002.


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The persistent Be/X-ray binary RXJ0440.9+4431 flared in 2010 and 2011 and has been followed by various X-ray facilities (Swift, RXTE, XMM-Newton, and INTEGRAL). We studied the source timing and spectral properties as a function of its X-ray luminosity to investigate the transition from normal to flaring activity. The source spectrum can always be described by a bulk-motion Comptonization model of black body seed photons attenuated by a moderate photoelectric absorption. At the highest luminosity, we measured a curvature of the spectrum, which we attribute to a significant contribution of the radiation pressure in the accretion process. This allows us to estimate that the transition from a bulk-motion-dominated flow to a radiatively dominated one happens at a luminosity of ~ 2 × 10³⁶ erg s⁻¹. The luminosity dependency of the size of the black body emission region is found to be rBB ∝ LX ⁰.³⁹±⁰.⁰². This suggests that either matter accreting onto the neutron star hosted in RXJ0440.9+4431 penetrates through closed magnetic field lines at the border of the compact object magnetosphere or that the size of the black-body emitting hotspot is larger than the footprint of the accretion column. This phenomenon can be due to illumination of the surface by a growing column or by a a structure of the neutron star magnetic field more complicated than a simple dipole at least close to the surface.