The shadow wind in high-mass X-ray binaries

Blondin, John M.

Published in: ApJ, 435, 756


We present hydrodynamic simulations of the most X-ray luminous high-mass X-ray binary systems, such as Cen X-3 and SMC X-1. These models illustrate the presence of both a normal radiatively driven wind confined to the X-ray shadow of the primary star -- a shadow wind -- and a thermally driven wind excited by the X-ray heating of the primary's stellar surface -- an X-ray-excited wind. The X-ray flux in these systems is sufficiently intense that any circumstellar gas exposed to the X-ray source will be highly photoionized. These extreme ionization conditions prevent the formation of a normal radiatively driven wind from the irradiated surface of the primary, but such a wind can still form on the shadowed side of the primary. Orbital rotation can then bring this shadow wind into the line of sight toward the X-ray source, enhancing the column density of the wind seen near eclipse egress. Furthermore, such a high X-ray flux can also excite a thermal wind from the irradiated surface of the primary. Again, orbital rotation tends to deflect the wind, this time leading to an enhanced column density near eclipse ingress.