Evidence for precession due to supercritical accretion in ultraluminous X-ray sources.
Most ultraluminous X-ray sources (ULXs) are thought to be supercritical accreting compact objects, where massive outflows are inevitable. Using the long-term monitoring data with the Swift X-ray Telescope, we identified a common feature in bright, hard ULXs: they display a quasi-periodic modulation in their hard X-ray band but not in their soft band. As a result, some sources show a bimodal distribution on the hardness intensity map. We argue that these model-independent results can be well interpreted in a picture that involves supercritical accretion with precession, where the hard X-ray emission from the central funnel is more or less beamed, while the soft X-rays may arise from the photosphere of the massive outflow and be nearly isotropic. It implies that precession may be ubiquitous in supercritical systems, such as the Galactic microquasar SS~433. How the hard X-rays are modulated can be used to constrain the angular distribution of the hard X-ray emission and the geometry of the accretion flow. We also find that two ULX pulsars (NGC 5907 ULX-1 and NGC 7793 P13) show similar behaviors but no bimodal distribution, which may imply that they have a different beaming shape or mechanism.
Publisher URL: http://arxiv.org/abs/1712.09536