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  1. ABSTRACT The radiative counterpart of the supermassive black hole at the Galactic Centre, Sagittarius A*, displays flaring emission in the X-ray band atop a steady, quiescent level. Flares are also observed in the near-infrared band. The physical process producing the flares is not fully understood and it is unclear if the flaring rate varies, although some recent works suggest it has reached unprecedented variability in recent years. Using over a decade of regular X-ray monitoring of Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory, we studied the variations in count rate of Sgr A* on time-scales of years. We decomposed the X-ray emission into quiescent and flaring emission, modelled as a constant and power-law process, respectively. We found that the complete, multiyear data set cannot be described by a stationary distribution of flare fluxes, while individual years follow this model better. In three of the ten studied years, the data is consistent with a purely Poissonian quiescent distribution, while for 5 yr, only an upper limit of the flare flux distribution parameter could be determined. We find that these possible changes cannot be explained fully by the different number of observations per year. Combined, these results are instead consistent with a changing flaring rate of Sgr A*,more »appearing more active between 2006–2007 and 2017–2019, than between 2008–2012. Finally, we discuss this result in the context of flare models and the passing of gaseous objects, and discuss the extra statistical steps taken, for instance, to deal with the background in the Swift observations.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 12, 2023
  2. Abstract We present a broadband radio study of the transient jets ejected from the black hole candidate X-ray binary MAXI J1535–571, which underwent a prolonged outburst beginning on 2017 September 2. We monitored MAXI J1535–571 with the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) at frequencies from 119 to 186 MHz over six epochs from 2017 September 20 to 2017 October 14. The source was quasi-simultaneously observed over the frequency range 0.84–19 GHz by UTMOST (the Upgraded Molonglo Observatory Synthesis Telescope) the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP), the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA), and the Australian Long Baseline Array (LBA). Using the LBA observations from 2017 September 23, we measured the source size to be $34\pm1$ mas. During the brightest radio flare on 2017 September 21, the source was detected down to 119 MHz by the MWA, and the radio spectrum indicates a turnover between 250 and 500 MHz, which is most likely due to synchrotron self-absorption (SSA). By fitting the radio spectrum with a SSA model and using the LBA size measurement, we determined various physical parameters of the jet knot (identified in ATCA data), including the jet opening angle ( $\phi_{\rm op} = 4.5\pm1.2^{\circ}$ ) and the magnetic field strengthmore »( $B_{\rm s} = 104^{+80}_{-78}$ mG). Our fitted magnetic field strength agrees reasonably well with that inferred from the standard equipartition approach, suggesting the jet knot to be close to equipartition. Our study highlights the capabilities of the Australian suite of radio telescopes to jointly probe radio jets in black hole X-ray binaries via simultaneous observations over a broad frequency range, and with differing angular resolutions. This suite allows us to determine the physical properties of X-ray binary jets. Finally, our study emphasises the potential contributions that can be made by the low-frequency part of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA-Low) in the study of black hole X-ray binaries.« less
  3. Abstract

    We use very long baseline interferometry to measure the proper motions of three black hole X-ray binaries (BHXBs). Using these results together with data from the literature and Gaia DR2 to collate the best available constraints on proper motion, parallax, distance, and systemic radial velocity of 16 BHXBs, we determined their three-dimensional Galactocentric orbits. We extended this analysis to estimate the probability distribution for the potential kick velocity (PKV) a BHXB system could have received on formation. Constraining the kicks imparted to BHXBs provides insight into the birth mechanism of black holes (BHs). Kicks also have a significant effect on BH–BH merger rates, merger sites, and binary evolution, and can be responsible for spin–orbit misalignment in BH binary systems. 75 per cent of our systems have potential kicks $\gt 70\, \rm {km\,s^{-1}}$. This suggests that strong kicks and hence spin–orbit misalignment might be common among BHXBs, in agreement with the observed quasi-periodic X-ray variability in their power density spectra. We used a Bayesian hierarchical methodology to analyse the PKV distribution of the BHXB population, and suggest that a unimodal Gaussian model with a mean of 107 $\pm \,\,16\, \rm {km\,s^{-1}}$ is a statistically favourable fit. Such relatively high PKVs would alsomore »reduce the number of BHs likely to be retained in globular clusters. We found no significant correlation between the BH mass and PKV, suggesting a lack of correlation between BH mass and the BH birth mechanism. Our python code allows the estimation of the PKV for any system with sufficient observational constraints.

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