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A unified accretion-ejection paradigm for black hole X-ray binaries: IV. Replication of the 2010–2011 activity cycle of GX 339-4

Abstract : Context. Transient X-ray binaries (XrB) exhibit very different spectral shapes during their evolution. In luminosity-color diagrams, their behavior in X-rays forms q-shaped cycles that remain unexplained. In Paper I, we proposed a framework where the innermost regions of the accretion disk evolve as a response to variations imposed in the outer regions. These variations lead not only to modifications of the inner disk accretion rate ṁin, but also to the evolution of the transition radius rJ between two disk regions. The outermost region is a standard accretion disk (SAD), whereas the innermost region is a jet-emitting disk (JED) where all the disk angular momentum is carried away vertically by two self-confined jets.Aims. In the previous papers of this series, it has been shown that such a JED–SAD disk configuration could reproduce the typical spectral (radio and X-rays) properties of the five canonical XrB states. The aim of this paper is now to replicate all X-ray spectra and radio emission observed during the 2010–2011 outburst of the archetypal object GX 339-4.Methods. We used the two-temperature plasma code presented in two previous papers (Papers II and III) and designed an automatic ad hoc fitting procedure that for any given date calculates the required disk parameters (ṁin,rJ) that fit the observed X-ray spectrum best. We used X-ray data in the 3–40 keV (RXTE/PCA) spread over 438 days of the outburst, together with 35 radio observations at 9 GHz (ATCA) dispersed within the same cycle.Results. We obtain the time distributions of ṁin(t) and rJ(t) that uniquely reproduce the X-ray luminosity and the spectral shape of the whole cycle. In the classical self-absorbed jet synchrotron emission model, the JED–SAD configuration also reproduces the radio properties very satisfactorily, in particular, the switch-off and -on events and the radio-X-ray correlation. Although the model is simplistic and some parts of the evolution still need to be refined, this is to our knowledge the first time that an outburst cycle is reproduced with such a high level of detail.Conclusions. Within the JED–SAD framework, radio and X-rays are so intimately linked that radio emission can be used to constrain the underlying disk configuration, in particular, during faint hard states. If this result is confirmed using other outbursts from GX 339-4 or other X-ray binaries, then radio could be indeed used as another means to indirectly probe disk physics.
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Submitted on : Friday, June 21, 2019 - 9:21:15 PM
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G. Marcel, J. Ferreira, M. Clavel, P.-O. Petrucci, J. Malzac, et al.. A unified accretion-ejection paradigm for black hole X-ray binaries: IV. Replication of the 2010–2011 activity cycle of GX 339-4. Astronomy and Astrophysics - A&A, EDP Sciences, 2019, 626, pp.A115. ⟨10.1051/0004-6361/201935060⟩. ⟨cea-02162593⟩

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