X-ray variability in Galactic high-mass black hole binaries
Sammanfattning: The stars of the night sky can to the naked eye appear to be steady and unchanging, apart from the twinkling created by air moving in the atmosphere. However, when viewed in X-rays, the sky is far from constant, with detectable changes occurring on very short timescales.Black hole X-ray binaries are strong sources of X-rays. These systems contain a star and a black hole in orbit around each other. As matter from the companion star is accreted by the black hole, large amounts of gravitational energy are released, giving rise to strong X-ray emission. The accretion ?ow close to a black hole is characterized by strong gravity, high-energy radiation and variability on timescales down to milliseconds. These systems allow us to probe physics under conditions we cannot recreate in a laboratory, and provide some of the strongest observational indications of the existence of black holes. Temporal analysis is a powerful diagnostic of the geometry and physical processes of this environment.The bulk of this thesis concerns studies of the rapid variability of perhaps the most well-known of all black hole binaries: Cygnus X-1. By tapping into the large amount of archival data available, a systematic study of the variability, in the form of the power spectrum, is conducted. The results show that timing studies can indeed give valuable information on the emission mechanisms and accretion geometry. Tying characteristic frequencies to effects predicted by general relativity directly gives information about the parameters of the compact object. Using these results, the past evolution of the binary system is studied.In addition, results from temporal analysis of the possible black hole binary Cygnus X-3 are presented. The study of X-ray variability covers timescales from years to seconds, and shows that while temporal analysis provides clues to this complex system, it does not provide immediate insight into the accretion geometry, or the nature of the compact object
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