Astronomy and Astrophysics, volume 476, 335-340 (2007/12-2)
Probing clumpy stellar winds with a neutron star.
WALTER R. and ZURITA HERAS J.
Abstract (from CDS):
INTEGRAL, the European Space Agency's γ-ray observatory, tripled the number of super-giant high-mass X-ray binaries (sgHMXB) known in the Galaxy by revealing absorbed and fast transient (SFXT) systems. In these sources, quantitative constraints on the wind clumping of the massive stars could be obtained from the study of the hard X-ray variability of the compact accreting object. Hard X-ray flares and quiescent emission of SFXT systems have been characterized and used to derive wind clump parameters. A large fraction of the hard X-ray emission is emitted in the form of flares with a typical duration of 3ks, frequency of 7 days and luminosity of 1036erg/s. Such flares are most probably emitted by the interaction of a compact object orbiting at ∼10R* with wind clumps (1022–23g) representing a large fraction of the stellar mass-loss rate. The density ratio between the clumps and the inter-clump medium is 102–4 in SFXT systems. The parameters of the clumps and of the inter-clump medium, derived from the SFXT flaring behavior, are in good agreement with macro-clumping scenario and line driven instability simulations. SFXT have probably a larger orbital radius than classical sgHMXB.