Broad-Band Variability in Accreting Compact Objects

S. Scaringi


Cataclysmic variable stars are in many ways similar to X-ray binaries. Both types of systems possess an accretion disk, which in most cases can reach the surface (or event horizon) of the central compact object. The main difference is that the embedded gravitational potential well in X-ray binaries is much deeper than those found in cataclysmic variables. As a result, X-ray binaries emit most of their radiation at X-ray wavelengths, as opposed to cataclysmic variables which emit mostly at optical/ultraviolet wavelengths. Both types of systems display aperiodic broad-band variability which can be associated to the accretion disk. Here, the properties of the observed X-ray variability in XRBs are compared to those observed at optical wavelengths in CVs. In most cases the variability properties of both types of systems are qualitatively similar once the relevant timescales associated with the inner accretion disk regions have been taken into account. The similarities include the observed power spectral density shapes, the rms-flux relation as well as Fourier-dependant time lags. Here a brief overview on these similarities is given, placing them in the context of the fluctuating accretion disk model which seeks to reproduce the observed variability.


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ISSN 2336-5382 (Online)
Published by the Czech Technical University in Prague