10 micron detection of the hard X-ray transient GRO J0422+32: Free-free emission from an X-ray-driven accretion disk wind?

Astronomy and Astrophysics – Astrophysics

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Accretion Disks, Stellar Mass Accretion, Stellar Winds, X Ray Binaries

Scientific paper

We report the detection of 10 micrometer emission from the transient low-mass X-ray binary (LMXB) and optical nova GRO J0422+32 near the maximum of its outburst. We discuss this result in terms of (1) a 'standard' model according to which low-energy radiation of LMXB is caused by reprocessing of X-rays in an accretion disk; (2) emission from a cool secondary star; (3) emission from dust grains heated by the transient X-rays, and (4) free-free emission from an X-ray-driven wind from the accretion disk. Only the fourth alternative provides a viable explanation for the observed 10 micrometer emission, with a mass-loss rate in the disk wind that may be substantially higher than the rate of accretion onto the compact star. The presence of such a wind may have a profound effect on the evolution of the binary, and contribute to the solution of the 'birthrate problem' of millisecond ratio pulsars.

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