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S.N. Zhang, Xiaoling Zhang, Xuejun Sun, Yangsen Yao (UAH and NASA/MSFC), Wei Cui (MIT), Wan Chen (GSFC and UMd), Xuebing Wu (BAO/China), Haiguang Xu (SJTU/China)
We have carried out systematic modeling of the X-ray spectra of the Galactic superluminal jet sources GRS 1915+105 and GRO J1655-40, using our newly developed spectral fitting methods. Our results reveal, for the first time, a three-layered structure of the atmosphere in the inner region of the accretion disks. Above the commonly known, cold and optically thick disk of a blackbody temperature 0.2-0.5 keV, there is a layer of warm gas with a temperature of 1.0-1.5 keV and an optical depth of around 10. Compton scattering of the underlying disk blackbody photons produces the soft X-ray component we commonly observe. Under certain conditions, there is also a much hotter, optically thin corona above the warm layer, characterized by a temperature of 100 keV or higher and an optical depth of unity or less. The corona produces the hard X-ray component typically seen in these sources. We emphasize that the existence of the warm layer seems to be independent of the presence of the hot corona and, therefore, it is not due to irradiation of the disk by hard X-rays from the corona. Our results suggest a striking structural similarity between the accretion disks and the solar atmosphere, which may provide a new stimulus to study the common underlying physical processes operating in these vastly different systems. We also report the first unambiguous detection of an emission line around 6.4 keV in GRO J1655-40, which may allow further constraining of the accretion disk structure. We acknowledge NASA GSFC and MSFC for partial financial support.