[HEAP] A unified Lense-Thirring precession model for optical and X-ray quasi-periodic oscillations in black hole binaries


Recent observations of accreting black holes reveal the presence of quasi-periodic oscillations (QPO) in the optical power density spectra. The corresponding oscillation periods match those found in the X-rays, implying a common origin. Among the numerous suggested X-ray QPO mechanisms, some may also work in the optical. However, their relevance to the broadband — optical through X-ray — spectral properties have not been investigated. For the first time, we discuss the QPO mechanism in the context of the self-consistent spectral model. We propose that the QPOs are produced by Lense-Thirring precession of the hot accretion flow, whose outer parts radiate in the optical wavelengths. At the same time, its innermost parts are emitting the X-rays, explaining the observed connection of QPO periods. We predict that the X-ray and optical QPOs should be either in phase or shifted by half a period, depending on the observer position. We investigate the QPO harmonic content and find that the variability amplitudes at the fundamental frequency are larger in the optical, while the X-rays are expected to have strong harmonics. We then discuss the QPO spectral dependence and compare the expectations to the existing data.

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Date added: Wed, 16 Oct 13