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Session 31 - Black Holes.
Oral session, Monday, January 15
Corte Real, Hilton

[31.01] Optical Observations of Black Hole X-ray Novae

J. A. Orosz, C. D. Bailyn (Yale), J. E. McClintock (CfA), R. A. Remillard (MIT)

Some of the most compelling evidence for the existence of black holes in nature comes from the study of the X-ray novae. The X-ray novae are close binary systems in which matter is transferred from a late-type star onto a compact object (often a black hole). The observed velocity of the secondary star determines the value of the mass function, which is the minimum mass of the compact object. In six cases, the mass function of the compact object exceeds 3\,M_\sun, confirming the existence of black holes in these systems, hereafter referred to as black hole X-ray novae or BHXNs.

The primary aim of our project is to increase the number of dynamically confirmed BHXNs. During the past four years, we have established three new BHXNs by measuring their mass functions, made numerous refined determinations of the system parameters for several BHXNs (e.g.\ the orbital period, orbital inclination angle, secondary spectral type, and binary mass ratio), recovered the quiescent optical counterpart of X-ray Nova Oph 1977, and identified the optical counterpart of the superliminal source GRO J1655-40. We will discuss the techniques developed to model the optical photometry and spectroscopy, some of the results that have been obtained, and the properties of BHXNs as a class.

Program listing for Monday