Stellar Wind Variations During the X-Ray High and Low States of Cygnus X-1
We present results from Hubble Space Telescope ultraviolet spectroscopy of the massive X-ray and black hole binary system, HD 226868 = Cyg X-1. The spectra were obtained at both orbital conjunction phases in 2002 and 2003, when the system was in the X-ray high/soft state. The UV stellar wind lines suffer large reductions in absorption strength when the black hole is in the foreground due to the X-ray ionization of the wind ions. We constructed model UV wind line profiles assuming that X-ray ionization occurs everywhere in the wind except the zone where the supergiant blocks the X-ray flux. The goodmatch between the observed and model profiles indicates that the wind ionization extends to near the hemisphere of the supergiant facing the X-ray source. We also present contemporaneous spectroscopy of the H alpha emission that forms in the high-density gas at the base of the supergiant's wind and the He II lambda 4686 emission that originates in the dense, focused wind gas between the stars. The H alpha emission strength is generally lower in the high/soft state than in the low/hard state, but the He II lambda 4686 emission is relatively constant between X-ray states. The results suggest that mass transfer in Cyg X-1 is dominated by the focused wind flow that peaks along the axis joining the stars, and that the stellar wind contribution from the remainder of the hemisphere facing the X-ray source is shut down by X-ray photoionization effects (in both X-ray states).
Gies, D. R.; Hillwig, Todd C.; and et al., "Stellar Wind Variations During the X-Ray High and Low States of Cygnus X-1" (2008). Physics and Astronomy Faculty Publications. 105.