|Dr Marek Gierlinski (Durham)|
|27th November 2002 (Lecture Theatre C)|
|"The colour of accretion or how to see the event horizon in black holes"|
I will review the X-ray spectral properties of black hole and neutron star binary systems. The large amount of data from the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE), spanning over six years, allows us to analyse statistical properties of these compact objects. With increasing accretion rate they trace out characteristic patterns in the X-ray colour-colour diagrams. In particular, the evolution of black holes in these diagrams is very different from evolution of neutron stars. I will show this is due to the presence of the solid surface in neutron stars and lack of it in black holes. There is a type of X-ray spectrum, which is only seen in black holes, which seems to be a good diagnostic of the event horizon.
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