Relation between spectral changes and the presence of the lower kHz QPO in the neutron star low-mass X-ray binary 4U 1636-53

Guobao Zhang, Mariano Méndez, Andrea Sanna, Evandro M. Ribeiro, Joseph (Yosi) Gelfand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We fitted the 3-180 keV spectrum of all the observations of the neutron star low-mass X-ray binary 4U 1636-53 taken with the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer using a model that includes a thermal Comptonization component. We found that in the low hard state the power-law index of this component, Γ, gradually increases as the source moves in the colour-colour diagram. When the source undergoes a transition from the hard to the soft state Γ drops abruptly; once the source is in the soft state Γ increases again and then decreases gradually as the source spectrum softens further. The changes in Γ, together with changes of the electron temperature, reflect changes of the optical depth in the corona. The lower kilohertz quasi-periodic oscillation (kHz QPO) in this source appears only in observations during the transition from the hard to the soft state, when the optical depth of the corona is high and changes depends strongly upon the position of the source in the colour-colour diagram. Our results are consistent with a scenario in which the lower kHz QPO reflects a global mode in the system that results from the resonance between the disc and/or the neutron star surface, and the Comptonizing corona.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5003-5010
Number of pages8
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2017



  • Accretion
  • Accretion discs
  • Stars: individual: 4U 1636-53
  • Stars: neutron
  • Xrays: binaries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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