Keck II spectroscopy of mHz quasiperiodic oscillations in Hercules X1 Academic Article uri icon


  • We present Keck II spectroscopy of optical mHz quasi-periodic oscillations (QPOs) in the light curve of the X-ray pulsar binary Hercules X-1. In the power spectrum it appears as 'peaked noise', with a coherency 2, a central frequency of 35 mHz and a peak-to-peak amplitude of 5 per cent. However, the dynamic power spectrum shows it to be an intermittent QPO, with a lifetime of 100 s, as expected if the lifetime of the orbiting material is equal to the thermal time-scale of the inner disc. We have decomposed the spectral time series into constant and variable components and used blackbody fits to the resulting spectra to characterize the spectrum of the QPO variability and constrain possible production sites. We find that the spectrum of the QPO is best fitted by a small hot region, possibly the inner regions of the accretion disc, where the ballistic accretion stream impacts on to the disc. The lack of any excess power around the QPO frequency in the X-ray power spectrum, created using simultaneous light curves from RXTE, implies that the QPO is not simply reprocessed X-ray variability.

published proceedings

  • Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

author list (cited authors)

  • O'Brien, K., Horne, K., Boroson, B., Still, M., Gomer, R., Oke, J. B., Boyd, P., & Vrtilek, S. D.

citation count

  • 6

complete list of authors

  • O'Brien, K||Horne, Keith||Boroson, B||Still, M||Gomer, R||Oke, JB||Boyd, P||Vrtilek, SD

publication date

  • January 2001