A number of neutron star low-mass X-ray binaries (LMXBs) have recently been discovered to show broad, asymmetric Fe K emission lines in their X-ray spectra. These lines are generally thought to be the most prominent part of a reflection spectrum, originating in the inner part of the accretion disk where strong relativistic effects can broaden emission lines. We present a comprehensive, systematic analysis of Suzaku and XMM-Newton spectra of 10 neutron star LMXBs, all of which display broad Fe K emission lines. Of the 10 sources, 4 are Z sources, 4 are atolls, and 2 are accreting millisecond X-ray pulsars (also atolls). The Fe K lines are fit well by a relativistic line model for a Schwarzschild metric, and imply a narrow range of inner disk radii (6-15 GM/c 2) in most cases. This implies that the accretion disk extends close to the neutron star surface over a range of luminosities. Continuum modeling shows that for the majority of observations, a blackbody component (plausibly associated with the boundary layer) dominates the X-ray emission from 8 to 20 keV. Thus it appears likely that this spectral component produces the majority of the ionizing flux that illuminates the accretion disk. Therefore, we also fit the spectra with a blurred reflection model, wherein a blackbody component illuminates the disk. This model fits well in most cases, supporting the idea that the boundary layer illuminates a geometrically thin disk.
Cosmology, Relativity, and Gravity | Stars, Interstellar Medium and the Galaxy
Relativistic Lines and Reflection from the Inner Accretion Disks Around Neutron Stars
Edward M. Cackett et al. 2010 ApJ 720 205