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Living on the edge: Rossby wave instability and HFQPOs in black hole binaries

Abstract : Context. The Rossby wave instability (RWI) has been proposed to explain the origin of the high-frequency quasi-periodic oscillations observed in the X-ray emission of astrophysical systems harbouring black holes. Recent numerical computations have proven that the RWI does exist in a general relativistic context and that its presence is associated with a time-variable X-ray emission from the disc.Aims. Using our new Numerical Observatory of Violent Accreting system, NOVAs, we explore the way the RWI impacts an accretion disc orbiting a spinning black hole under realistic astrophysical conditions. Our aim is to study the impact of the presence of the RWI in the very inner part of the accretion disc on known observables and explore some possibly new ones.Methods. We present the first full general relativistic hydrodynamical simulations of the RWI occurring at the last stable orbit of an accretion disc orbiting around a Kerr black-hole. Those simulations, coupled with a full general relativistic ray-tracing, have allowed us to directly compare our simulations with the observables we obtained from the X-ray emission of the disc.Results. Our study shows, for the first time, that the RWI naturally arises near the inner edge of an accretion disc whenever it gets close to its last stable orbit, as predicted analytically. From there, we show that not only does the RWI create a visible timing feature but it also impacts the energy spectrum of the source, which exhibits a high energy extension due to the presence of hot vortices generated by the RWI in the disc. Our study also shows that systems with the RWI present at the inner edge of the disc only exhibit similar behavior to systems in which HFQPOs have been detected.
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Submitted on : Monday, June 8, 2020 - 9:15:10 PM
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P. Varniere, F. H. Vincent, F. Casse. Living on the edge: Rossby wave instability and HFQPOs in black hole binaries. Astronomy and Astrophysics - A&A, EDP Sciences, 2020, 638, pp.A33. ⟨10.1051/0004-6361/202037816⟩. ⟨cea-02861248⟩

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