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Session 78 - X-ray Binaries.
Oral session, Thursday, June 11
It has recently been suggested that gravitomagnetic precession of the inner part of the accretion disk, possibly driven by radiation torques, may be responsible for some of the quasi-periodic X-ray brightness oscillations (QPOs) at 20 - 300 Hz, observed in some low-mass binary systems containing accreting neutron stars and black hole candidates. We have explored warp modes of geometrically thin disks in the presence of gravitomagnetic and radiation torques.
We have found a family of overdamped, low-frequency gravitomagnetic (LFGM) modes with precession frequencies lower than a certain critical frequency ømega_crit, which is \sim 1 Hz for a compact object of solar mass. A radiation warping torque can cause only a few of the lowest-frequency LFGM modes to grow with time, but even a strong radiation warping torque has essentially no effect on the LFGM modes with frequencies > 10^-3 Hz.
We have also discovered a second family of high-frequency gravitomagnetic (HFGM) modes with precession frequencies that range from ømega_crit up to slightly less than the gravitomagnetic precession frequency ømega_gm,i of a particle at the inner edge of the disk, which is \sim 50 Hz if the disk extends inward to the innermost stable circular orbit around a compact object of solar mass with dimensionless angular momentum cJ/GM^2 \sim 0.2. The highest-frequency HFGM modes are very localized spiral corrugations of the inner disk and are weakly damped, with Q values 2-50.
We discuss the implications of our results for the observability of Lense-Thirring precession in X-ray binaries.
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