State transitions in low-mass x-ray binaries

Charles K. Bradley, Louisiana State University
Juhan Frank, Louisiana State University


We investigate the model of disk/coronal accretion into a black hole. We show that the inner regions of an accretion disk in X-ray binaries can transform from a cool standard disk to an advection-dominated flow through the known properties of Coulomb interaction in a two-temperature plasma, viscous heating, radiative processes, and thermal conduction. A hot, diffuse corona covering the disk is powered by accretion, but it exchanges mass with the underlying cold disk. If the accretion rate in the system is low enough, we show that the corona evaporates the disk away, leaving an advective flow to continue toward the hole. In the soft/hard transition commonly seen in X-ray binaries, we show that this advective flow can recondense back onto the underlying disk if the change in the system's accretion rate is slow enough due to thermal conduction. Unabsorbed spectra are produced to test against observations as well as prediction of the location of truncation radii of the accretion disk. © 2009. The American Astronomical Society.