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Astron. Astrophys. 354, L67-L70 (2000)

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Letter to the Editor

Black hole X-ray binaries: a new view on soft-hard spectral transitions

F. Meyer 1, B.F. Liu 1,2 and E. Meyer-Hofmeister 1

1 Max-Planck-Institut für Astrophysik, Karl Schwarzschildstrasse 1, 85740 Garching, Germany
2 Yunnan Observatory, Academia Sinica. P.O.Box 110, Kunming 650011, P.R. China

Received 10 December 1999 / Accepted 21 January 2000


The theory of coronal evaporation predicts the formation of an inner hole in the cool thin accretion disk for mass accretion rates below a certain value ([FORMULA] 1/50 of the Eddington mass accretion rate) and the sudden disappearance of this hole when the mass accretion rate rises above that value. The inner edge of the standard thin disk then suddenly shifts inward vvvvfrom about a few hundred Schwarzschild radii to the last stable orbit. This appears to quantitatively account for the observed transitions between hard and soft spectral states at critical luminosities. Due to the evaporation process the matter accreting in the geometrically thin disk changes to a hot coronal flow which proceeds towards the black hole as an advection-dominated accretion flow (ADAF; for a review see Narayan et al. 1998).

Key words: accretion, accretion disks – stars: binaries: close – black hole physics – X-rays: stars – stars: individual: A0620-00

Send offprint requests to: Emmi Meyer-Hofmeister

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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 2000

Online publication: February 9, 2000