Investigating the Hard State of MAXI J1820+070: A Comprehensive Bayesian Approach to Black Hole Spin and Accretion Properties

Sachin D Dias*, Simon Vaughan, Mehdy Lefkir, Graham Wynn

*Corresponding author for this work

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We analyse the X-ray spectrum of the black hole (BH) X-ray binary MAXI J1820 + 070 using observations from XMM-Newton and NuSTAR during ‘hard’ states of its 2018–2019 outburst. We take a fully Bayesian approach, and this is one of the first papers to present a fully Bayesian workflow for the analysis of an X-ray binary X-ray spectrum. This allows us to leverage the relatively well-understood distance and binary system properties (like inclination and BH mass), as well as information from the XMM-Newton RGS data to assess the foreground X-ray absorption. We employ a spectral model for a ‘vanilla’ disc-corona system: the disc is flat and in the plane perpendicular to the axis of the jet and the BH spin, the disc extends inwards to the innermost stable circular orbit around the BH, and the (non-thermal) hard X-ray photons are up-scattered soft X-ray photons originating from the disc thermal emission. Together, these provide tight constraints on the spectral model and, in combination with the strong prior information about the system, mean we can then constrain other parameters that are poorly understood such as the disc colour correction factor. By marginalizing over all the parameters, we calculate a posterior density for the BH spin parameter, a. Our modelling suggests a preference for low or negative spin values, although this could plausibly be reproduced by higher spins and a modest degree of disc truncation. This approach demonstrates the efficacy and some of the complexities of Bayesian methods for X-ray spectral analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberstae527
Pages (from-to)1752-1775
Number of pages24
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Early online date19 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2024

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