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The eclipsing low-mass X-ray binary 4U 1822-371 is the prototypical accretion disk corona (ADC) system. We have obtained new time-resolved UV spectroscopy of 4U 1822-371 with the Advanced Camera for Surveys/Solar Blind Channel on the Hubble Space Telescope and new V- and J-band photometry with the 1.3 m SMARTS telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory. We use the new data to construct its UV/optical spectral energy distribution and its orbital light curve in the UV, V, and J bands. We derive an improved ephemeris for the optical eclipses and confirm that the orbital period is changing rapidly, indicating extremely high rates of mass flow in the system, and we show that the accretion disk in the system has a strong wind with projected velocities up to 4000kms-1. We show that the disk has a vertically extended, optically thick component at optical wavelengths. This component extends almost to the edge of the disk and has a height equal to 0.5 of the disk radius. As it has a low brightness temperature, we identify it as the optically thick base of a disk wind, not as the optical counterpart of the ADC. Like previous models of 4U 1822-371, ours needs a tall obscuring wall near the edge of the accretion disk, but we interpret the wall as a layer of cooler material at the base of the disk wind, not as a tall, luminous disk rim. © 2010. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

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Astrophysical Journal

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