Galactic black hole binaries: High-energy radiation

Academic Article


  • Observations of galactic BHCs made by the Compton GRO in the hard X-ray and gamma-ray bands have significantly enhanced our knowledge of the emission properties of these objects. Understanding these observations presents a formidable challenge to theoretical models of the accretion flow onto the compact object and of the physical mechanisms that generate high-energy radiation. Here we summarize the current state of observations and theoretical interpretation of the emission from BHCs above 20 keV. The all-sky monitoring capability of BATSE allows nearly continuous studies of the high-energy emission from more than a dozen BHCs. These long-term datasets are particularly well-suited to multi-wavelength studies. Energy spectral evolution and/or state transitions have been observed from many of the BHCs. Observations above 50 keV from OSSE demonstrate the existence of two gamma ray spectral states that appear to be the extensions of the X-ray low/hard and high/soft (or perhaps very high) states. The former state, the "breaking" state, cuts off with e-folding energy ~100 keV and has its peak luminosity near this energy. In contrast, the latter state has luminosity peaking in the soft X-rays and an unbroken power law spectrum, even up to energies above 500 keV in some cases. The breaking gamma-ray spectrum can be well modeled by Comptonization of soft photons in a hot thermal plasma. The power-law state creates more significant theoretical challenges. It has been suggested that in this state the high- energy emission arises from bulk-motion Comptonization in the convergent accretion flow from the inner edge of the accretion disk.
  • Authors

  • Grove, JE
  • Grindlay, JE
  • Harmon, BA
  • Hua, XM
  • Kazanas, D
  • McConnell, Mark
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • 1997
  • Published In


  • astro-ph
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 122
  • End Page

  • 140
  • Volume

  • 410
  • Issue

  • 410