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Chandra X-ray Observatory Newsletter 2007

Chandra X-ray Observatory Newsletter 2007

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Chandra X-ray Observatory Newsletter, issue 14, 2007
Chandra X-ray Observatory Newsletter, issue 14, 2007

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Published by the Chandra X-ray Center (CXC)
Issue number 14
Chandra News
March 2007
 
A
strophysical black holes have the poten-tial to revolutionize classical black hole physics. Afterall, the only black holes we know, or may ever know,are astrophysical black holes. But how can we makethis journey from astrophysics to physics? In fact, it iswell underway (e.g., see §8 in Remillard & McClintock2006), and
Chandra
is making leading contributionsby (1) providing strong evidence for the existence of the event horizon — the defining property of a blackhole, and by (2) measuring both the
spin 
and mass of an eclipsing stellar black hole in M33. Meanwhile,
Constellation-X 
promises to deliver the ultimate prize,namely, a quantitative test of the Kerr metric. One of the most remarkable predictions of black hole physicsis that two numbers specifying mass and spin suffice toprovide a complete and absolutely exact description of the space-time surrounding a stationary rotating blackhole. Testing this prediction is the most importantcontribution that astrophysics can make to black holephysics.
Chandra
and
Constellation-X 
Home in on the Event Horizon,Black Hole Spin and the Kerr Metric:The Journey from Astrophysics to Physics
 FIGURE 1: Eddington-scaled luminosities of black-hole (red circles) and neutron-star (blue stars) X-ray transients in quies-cence. The diagonal hatched areas delineate the regions occu- pied by the two classes of sources and indicate the dependencyon orbital period. FIGURE 2: (a). ACIS X-ray eclipse light curve of the black hole binary X-7. The different colors correspond to different observation epochs. (b). Radial velocity curve of X-7’s O-star companion.
 
2
CXC Newsletter 
Black Holes are Black:
Chandra
Points to thePhantom Horizon
Presently, some 20 X-ray binary black hole can-didates have well-determined masses which exceed thetheoretical maximum mass of a neutron star. This istaken to be a sign that the objects are black holes. Butdo they really have event horizons?The first test for the presence of the event hori-zon was carried out by Narayan, Garcia & McClintock(1997) using archival X-ray data. However, one hadto wait for
Chandra
before one could claim definitiveevidence. Figure 1 is a plot of Eddington-scaled X-ray luminosities of neutron-star and black-hole X-raybinaries in their quiescent or ultralow mass accretionrate (
Ṁ 
) state. The horizontal axis shows the orbitalperiod, which according to binary mass transfer modelsis a predictor of 
Ṁ 
(Menou et al. 1999). The contrastbetween the neutron-star and black-hole candidates isdramatic. At every orbital period, black hole candidateshave Eddington-scaled luminosities that are lower thanneutron stars by two to three orders of magnitude. Evenif we do not scale by the Eddington limit, the differenceis still nearly two orders of magnitude.The explanation for this result is that accretion inthese quiescent systems occurs via a radiatively inef-ficient mode (advection-dominated accretion), as con-firmed through spectral studies. Therefore, the diskluminosity
disk
,
 
<<
Ṁ 
c
2
and most of the binding en-ergy that is released as gas falls into the potential well isretained in the gas as thermal energy. In the case of anaccreting neutron star, this energy is eventually radiat-ed from the stellar surface, and so an external observerstill sees the full accretion luminosity ~0.2
Ṁ 
c
2
. In thecase of a black hole, however, the superheated gas fallsthrough the event horizon, carrying all its thermal en-ergy with it. The observer therefore sees only the diskluminosity
disk
,
which is extremely small. This argu-ment was originally presented by Narayan & Yi (1995)and was the basis of their prediction that, in the pres-
CONTENTS
Chandra
and
Constellation-X 
Home in on the EventHorizon, Black Hole Spin and the Kerr Metric1Useful
Chandra
Web Addresses30Project Scientist’s Report 6
Chandra
Data Processing 31Project Manager’s Report 6The
Chandra
Automated Processing System31Instruments: ACIS8The
Chandra
X-ray Observatory Calibration Database33Instruments: HRC 11
Chandra
Data Archive Operations35Instruments: HETG 13CIAO:
Chandra’
s Data Analysis System36Instruments: LETG 16Status of the
Chandra
Source Catalog Project38
Chandra
Important Dates 2007 19
Chandra
Data Archive40
Chandra
Calibration 20Absolute Time Calibration for the
Chandra
X-rayObservatory41Cross-Calibrating
Chandra
and XMM-Newton 21The Results of the Cycle 8 Peer Review43CXC 2006 Press Releases 23Chandra-Related Meetings Planned for the Next Year45Chandra Fellows for 200723Monte-Carlo Processes ...47Running
Chandra
24Chandra Education and Public Outreach48
Chandra
Flight Operations Software Tools ImproveMission Execution24Constellation X-ray Mission Update51The
Chandra
X-Ray Observatory Mission PlanningProcess25Mission Planning under Bill Forman52
Chandra
, Hardware and Systems 27HelpDesk53
Chandra
Monitoring and Trends Analysis27Chandra UsersCommittee Membership List53A Historical Fluence Analysis ...29X-ray Grating Spectroscopy Workshop54Eight Years of Science with
Chandra
30Mz 3, BD+30
˚
3639, Hen 3-1475 and NGC 702755X-ray Astronomy School30CXC Contact Personnel55
Chandra
Calibration Workshop30
 
3
March, 2007 
ence of advection-dominated accretion, there should bea large luminosity difference between compact objectswith surfaces and those with event horizons. Convinc-ing confirmation of their prediction is provided by Fig-ure 1, which is an updated version of a similar figurethat appeared first in Garcia et al. (2001; see also Mc-Clintock et al. 2004).
Chandra
, which supplied most of the data shown in this figure, is by far the best telescopefor this work because of its low background.In addition to the above test, which is based onluminosity, one could also consider spectral informa-tion. There are strong theoretical reasons to expect theradiation emitted by the surface of a compact star to bethermal. Therefore, if the tiny luminosity seen in qui-escent black holes is from the stellar surface, one wouldexpect the spectrum to be thermal (as it is, for instance,in most quiescent neutron stars). Observations with
Chandra
of the quiescent black hole X-ray binary XTEJ1118+480 show, however, that the radiation comes outalmost entirely in a power-law component, confirmingthat this object does not have a surface (McClintock etal. 2004)
The Spin and Mass of the First Eclipsing Black Hole,M33 X-7
The
Chandra
Legacy observations of M33 re-vealed the first eclipsing black hole X-ray binary, whichwas dubbed X-7 (Figure 2a; Pietsch et al. 2006). At adistance of 810 kpc, X-7 lies at 100 times the distanceof a typical Galactic X-ray binary. Despite this greatdistance,
Chandra
pinpointed the location of X-7’s O-type optical counterpart, which has a probable mass of about 50
§
. This massive star’s large velocity ampli-tude,
= 110 ± 7 km s
-1
(Figure 2b; Orosz et al. 2007),implies an estimated black hole mass of 10-15
§
.Once precise values of black hole mass and or-bital inclination have been determined, the 1.4 Msec of 
Chandra
data will be used further to estimate the spin of X-7 by fitting its X-ray continuum spectrum to a modelof an accretion disk that includes all relativistic effects.Recently, the spins of four stellar black holes have beenestimated in this way (McClintock et al. 2006).As mentioned above, an astrophysical black hole
 FIGURE 3: Behavior of three key dimensionless quantities (seetext for definitions) that depend only on the black hole spin pa-rameter a*. The filled circles correspond to nominal estimates of the spins of (from left to right) LMC X-3, GRO J1655-40, 4U1543-47 and GRS1915+105 (McClintock et al. 2006). The horizontal dashed and dotted lines corresponds to a*= 0 and a*= 1, respec-tively. In panel a, GM/c
2
= 15 km for M = 10
 M 
§
. FIGURE 4: Simulated accretion disk image showing strong non-axisymmetric structure (from simulations of  Armitage & Reynolds 2003).

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