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Coupling between the accreting corona and the relativistic jet in the microquasar GRS 1915+105

A Publisher Correction to this article was published on 04 April 2022

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Abstract

Accreting black holes emit highly collimated radio jets expanding at speeds approaching light speed. Some of these jets appear to be expanding at superluminal speeds due to geometric effects. While magnetic fields are thought to be responsible for collimating the ejecta, the mechanism that accelerates the material in these jets remains unexplained. For the galactic black hole GRS 1915+105 with a superluminal radio jet, it has been proposed that thermal instabilities in the accretion disk lead to the ejection of the inner parts of the disk into the jet. Here we use X-ray and radio observations over a 10-year period to reveal a strong correlation between (i) the radio flux that comes from the jet and the flux of the iron emission line that comes from the disk and (ii) the temperature of the hard X-ray corona and the amplitude of a high-frequency variability component that comes from the innermost part of the accretion flow. At the same time, the radio flux and the flux of the iron line are strongly anti-correlated with the temperature of the X-ray corona and the amplitude of the high-frequency variability component. Our findings show that the energy that powers this black hole system can be directed in different proportions either mainly to the X-ray corona or to the jet. These facts, plus our modelling of the variability in this source, suggest that in GRS 1915+105 the X-ray corona turns into the jet.

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Fig. 1: Hardness ratio versus QPO frequency of GRS 1915+105.
Fig. 2: Flux of the iron line versus total flux in the 2–25 keV range for GRS 1915+105.
Fig. 3: Schematic of the corona turning into the jet in GRS 1915+105.
Fig. 4: Time evolution of QPO frequency and radio flux for GRS 1915+105.

Data availability

All the X-ray data used in this study are available from NASA’s High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (https://heasarc.gsfc.nasa.gov/). The radio data used in this study are available at http://www.astro.rug.nl/~mariano/GRS_1915+105_Ryle_data_1995-2006.txt.

Code availability

The data reduction was done using HEADAS version 6.27, whereas the model fitting of energy, power and lag–energy spectra was done with XSPEC; both packages are available at the HEASARC website (https://heasarc.gsfc.nasa.gov/). The timing analysis was performed with the GHATS package developed by T.M.B. and is available upon request (http://astrosat.iucaa.in/~astrosat/GHATS_Package/Home.html). All figures were made in TOPCAT, a JAVA-based scientific plotting package developed by M. Taylor (http://www.star.bris.ac.uk/~mbt/topcat/).

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Acknowledgements

This work is part of the research programme Athena with project number 184.034.002, which is (partly) financed by the Dutch Research Council (NWO). F.G. is a researcher of CONICET, and acknowledges support by PIP 0113 (CONICET) and PICT-2017-2865 (ANPCyT). Y.Z. acknowledges support from a China Scholarship Council scholarship (201906100030). T.M.B. acknowledges financial contribution from agreement ASI-INAF n.2017-14-H.0 and from PRIN-INAF 2019 N.15, and thanks the Team Meeting at the International Space Science Institute (Bern) for fruitful discussions. D.A. acknowledges support from the Royal Society. We thank G. Pooley for making the radio data available. This research has made use of data and/or software provided by the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), which is a service of the Astrophysics Science Division at NASA/GSFC. This research made use of NASA’s Astrophysics Data System. We thank O. Blaes for discussions and ideas that helped us improve this manuscript.

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All authors contributed to interpretation of results and edited the manuscript. M.M. led the interpretation, obtained spectral parameters and wrote the manuscript. K.K. wrote the model that triggered this research, produced initial radio and timing plots, fitted r.m.s. and lag spectra and co-led the interpretation. F.G. produced initial three-dimensional radio, timing and spectral plots, fitted r.m.s. and lag spectra of the QPO and co-led the interpretation. M.M., K.K. and F.G. measured extra QPO frequencies. L.Z. obtained parameters of the QPO. Y.Z. obtained parameters of the high-frequency bump. T.M.B. had the idea to study the high-frequency bump in connection with the radio flux. D.A. discussed the results and contributed to the interpretation.

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Correspondence to Mariano Méndez.

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Méndez, M., Karpouzas, K., García, F. et al. Coupling between the accreting corona and the relativistic jet in the microquasar GRS 1915+105. Nat Astron 6, 577–583 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41550-022-01617-y

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