Si K Edge Structure and Variability in Galactic X-Ray Binaries

Norbert S. Schulz, Lia Corrales, Claude R. Canizares

Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA 

We survey the Si K edge structure in various absorbed Galactic low-mass X-ray binaries (LMXBs) to study states of silicon in the inter- and circum-stellar medium. The bulk of these LMXBs lie toward the Galactic bulge region and all have column densities above 10 22   cm −2 . The observations were performed with the Chandra High Energy Transmission Grating Spectrometer. The Si K edge in all sources appears at an energy value of 1844 ± 0.001 eV. The edge exhibits significant substructure which can be described by a near edge absorption feature at 1849 ± 0.002 eV and a far edge absorption feature at 1865 ± 0.002 eV. Both of these absorption features appear variable with equivalent widths up to several mÅ. We can describe the edge structure with several components: multiple edge functions, near edge absorption excesses from silicates in dust form, signatures from X-ray scattering optical depths, and a variable warm absorber from ionized atomic silicon. The measured optical depths of the edges indicate much higher values than expected from atomic silicon cross sections and ISM abundances, and appear consistent with predictions from silicate X-ray absorption and scattering. A comparison with models also indicates a preference for larger dust grain sizes. In many cases we identify Si XIII resonance absorption and determine ionization parameters between log ξ  = 1.8 and 2.8 and turbulent velocities between 300 and 1000 km/s. This places the warm absorber in close vicinity of the X-ray binaries. In some data we observe a weak edge at 1.840 keV, potentially from a lesser contribution of neutral atomic silicon.

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