Missing hard states and regular outbursts: the puzzling case of the black hole candidate 4U 1630-472

Capitanio, F. ; Campana, R. ; De Cesare, G. ; Ferrigno, C.

In: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2015, vol. 450, no. 4, p. 3840-3854

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    Summary
    4U 1630-472 is a recurrent X-ray transient classified as a black hole candidate from its spectral and timing properties. One of the peculiarities of this source is the presence of regular outbursts with a recurrence period between 600 and 730d that has been observed since the discovery of the source in 1969. We report on a comparative study of the spectral and timing behaviour of three consecutive outbursts that occurred in 2006, 2008 and 2010. We have analysed all the data collected by INTEGRAL and the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) during these three years of activity. We show that, in spite of having a similar spectral and timing behaviour in the energy range between 3 and 30keV, these three outbursts show pronounced differences above 30keV. In fact, the 2010 outburst extends at high energies without any detectable cut-off until 150-200keV, while the two previous outbursts that occurred in 2006 and 2008 are not detected at all above 30keV. Thus, in spite of a very similar accretion disc evolution, these three outbursts exhibit totally different characteristics of the Compton electron corona, showing a softening in their evolution rarely observed before in a low-mass X-ray binary hosting a black hole. We argue the possibility that the unknown perturbation that causes the outbursts to be equally spaced in time could be at the origin of this particular behaviour. Finally, we describe several possible scenarios that could explain the regularity of the outbursts, identifying the most plausible, such as a third body orbiting around the binary system