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A jet model for the fast IR variability of the black hole X-ray binary GX 339-4

Malzac, Julien; Kalamkar, Maithili; Vincentelli, Federico; Vue, Alexis; Drappeau, Samia; Belmont, Renaud; Casella, Piergiorgio; Clavel, Maïca; Corbel, Stphane; Coriat, Mickaël; Dornic, Damien; Ferreira, Jonathan; Henri, Gilles; Maccarone, Thomas J; Marcowith, Alexandre; O’Brien, Kieran; Péault, Mathias; Petrucci, Pierre-Olivier; Rodriguez, Jérome; Russell, David M; Uttley, Phil

A jet model for the fast IR variability of the black hole X-ray binary GX 339-4 Thumbnail


Julien Malzac

Maithili Kalamkar

Federico Vincentelli

Alexis Vue

Samia Drappeau

Renaud Belmont

Piergiorgio Casella

Maïca Clavel

Stphane Corbel

Mickaël Coriat

Damien Dornic

Jonathan Ferreira

Gilles Henri

Thomas J Maccarone

Alexandre Marcowith

Mathias Péault

Pierre-Olivier Petrucci

Jérome Rodriguez

David M Russell

Phil Uttley


Using the simultaneous Infra-Red (IR) and X-ray light curves obtained by Kalamkar et al., we perform a Fourier analysis of the IR/X-ray timing correlations of the black hole X-ray binary (BHB) GX 339-4. The resulting IR vs X-ray Fourier coherence and lag spectra are similar to those obtained in previous studies of GX 339-4 using optical light curves. In particular, above 1 Hz, the lag spectrum features an approximately constant IR lag of about 100 ms. We model simultaneously the radio to IR Spectral Energy Distribution (SED), the IR Power Spectral Density (PSD), and the coherence and lag spectra using the jet internal shock model ISHEM assuming that the fluctuations of the jet Lorentz factor are driven by the accretion flow. It turns out that most of the spectral and timing features, including the 100-ms lag, are remarkably well-reproduced by this model. The 100-ms time-scale is then associated with the travel time from the accretion flow to the IR emitting zone. Our exploration of the parameter space favours a jet which is at most mildly relativistic (¯ < 3), and a linear and positive relation between the jet Lorentz factor and X-ray light curve i.e. (t) − 1∝LX(t). The presence of a strong Low-Frequency Quasi-Periodic Oscillation (LFQPO) in the IR light curve could be caused by jet precession driven by Lense–Thirring precession of the jet-emitting accretion flow. Our simulations confirm that this mechanism can produce an IR LFQPO similar to that observed in GX 339-4.


Malzac, J., Kalamkar, M., Vincentelli, F., Vue, A., Drappeau, S., Belmont, R., …Uttley, P. (2018). A jet model for the fast IR variability of the black hole X-ray binary GX 339-4. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 480(2), 2054-2071.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 23, 2018
Online Publication Date Jul 30, 2018
Publication Date Oct 21, 2018
Deposit Date Sep 30, 2018
Publicly Available Date Oct 5, 2018
Journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Print ISSN 0035-8711
Electronic ISSN 1365-2966
Publisher Royal Astronomical Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 480
Issue 2
Pages 2054-2071


Published Journal Article (1.4 Mb)

Copyright Statement
This article has been accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2018 The Authors. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

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