Article

The spin of the near-extreme Kerr black hole GRS 1915+105

The Astrophysical Journal (Impact Factor: 6.28). 06/2006; 652(1). DOI: 10.1086/508457
Source: arXiv

ABSTRACT Based on a spectral analysis of the X-ray continuum that employs a fully
relativistic accretion-disk model, we conclude that the compact primary of the
binary X-ray source GRS 1915+105 is a rapidly-rotating Kerr black hole. We find
a lower limit on the dimensionless spin parameter of a* greater than 0.98. Our
result is robust in the sense that it is independent of the details of the data
analysis and insensitive to the uncertainties in the mass and distance of the
black hole. Furthermore, our accretion-disk model includes an advanced
treatment of spectral hardening. Our data selection relies on a rigorous and
quantitative definition of the thermal state of black hole binaries, which we
used to screen all of the available RXTE and ASCA data for the thermal state of
GRS 1915+105. In addition, we focus on those data for which the accretion disk
luminosity is less than 30% of the Eddington luminosity. We argue that these
low-luminosity data are most appropriate for the thin alpha-disk model that we
employ. We assume that there is zero torque at the inner edge of the disk, as
is likely when the disk is thin, although we show that the presence of a
significant torque does not affect our results. Our model and the model of the
relativistic jets observed for this source constrain the distance and black
hole mass and could thus be tested by determining a VLBA parallax distance and
improving the measurement of the mass function. Finally, we comment on the
significance of our results for relativistic-jet and core-collapse models, and
for the detection of gravitational waves.

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