AAS 207th Meeting, 8-12 January 2006
Session 32 Extreme Physics from Compact Objects
Poster, Monday, 9:20am-7:00pm, January 9, 2006, Exhibit Hall

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[32.02] The Rates of Type I X-ray Bursts from Transients Observed with RXTE: Evidence for Black Hole Event Horizons

R. A. Remillard, D. Lin (MIT Kavli Institute), R. L. Cooper, R. Narayan (Harvard-Smithsonian CfA)

We measure the rates of type I X-ray bursts from a likely complete sample of 37 non-pulsing Galactic X-ray transients observed with the RXTE ASM during 1996-2004. Our strategy is to test the prevailing paradigms for these sources, which are well-categorized in the literature as either neutron-star systems or black hole candidates. Burst rates are measured as a function of the bolometric luminosity, and the results are compared with burst models for neutron stars and for heavy compact objects with a solid surface. We use augmented versions of the models developed by Narayan & Heyl (2002; 2003). For a given mass, we consider a range of conditions in both the radius and the temperature at the boundary below the accretion layer. We find 135 type I bursts in 3.7 Ms of PCA light curves for the neutron-star group, and the burst rate function is generally consistent with the model predictions for bursts from accreting neutron stars. On the other hand, none of the (20) bursts candidates passed spectral criteria for type I bursts in 6.5 Ms of PCA light curves for black-hole binaries and candidates. The burst function upper limits are inconsistent with the predictions of the burst model for heavy compact objects with a solid surface. The consistency probability is found to be below 10-7 for dynamical black-hole binaries, falling to below 10-13 for the additional exposures of black-hole candidates. These results provide indirect evidence that black holes do have event horizons. This research was supported, in part, by NASA science programs.

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