J. Wilms

Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Bavaria, Germany

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Publications (612)1065.16 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: We present spectral analysis of five NuSTAR and Swift observations of GX 339-4 taken during a failed outburst in summer 2013. These observations cover Eddington luminosity fractions in the range ~0.9-6%. Throughout this outburst, GX 339-4 stayed in the hard state, and all five observations show similar X-ray spectra with a hard power-law with a photon index near 1.6 and significant contribution from reflection. Using simple reflection models we find unrealistically high iron abundances. Allowing for different photon indices for the continuum incident on the reflector relative to the underlying observed continuum results in a statistically better fit and reduced iron abundances. With a photon index around 1.3, the input power-law on the reflector is significantly harder than that which is directly observed. We study the influence of different emissivity profiles and geometries and consistently find an improvement when using separate photon indices. The inferred inner accretion disk radius is strongly model dependent, but we do not find evidence for a truncation radius larger than 100 r_g in any model. The data do not allow independent spin constraints but the results are consistent with the literature (i.e., a>0). Our best-fit models indicate an inclination angle in the range 40-60 degrees, consistent with limits on the orbital inclination but higher than reported in the literature using standard reflection models. The iron line around 6.4 keV is clearly broadened, and we detect a superimposed narrow core as well. This core originates from a fluorescence region outside the influence of the strong gravity of the black hole and we discuss possible geometries.
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    ABSTRACT: We present simultaneous Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR ) and Suzaku observations of the X-ray binary Cygnus X-1 in the hard state. This is the first time this state has been observed in Cyg X-1 with NuSTAR, which enables us to study the reflection and broad-band spectra in unprecedented detail. We confirm that the iron line cannot be fit with a combination of narrow lines and absorption features, and instead requires a relativistically blurred profile in combination with a narrow line and absorption from the companion wind. We use the reflection models of Garcia et al. (2014) to simultaneously measure the black hole spin, disk inner radius, and coronal height in a self-consistent manner. Detailed fits to the iron line profile indicate a high level of relativistic blurring, indicative of reflection from the inner accretion disk. We find a high spin, a small inner disk radius, and a low source height, and rule out truncation to greater than three gravitational radii at the 3{\sigma} confidence level. In addition, we find that the line profile has not changed greatly in the switch from soft to hard states, and that the differences are consistent with changes in the underlying reflection spectrum rather than the relativistic blurring. We find that the blurring parameters are consistent when fitting either just the iron line or the entire broad-band spectrum, which is well modelled with a Comptonized continuum plus reflection model.
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    ABSTRACT: A search for high-energy neutrinos coming from the direction of the Galactic Centre is performed using the data recorded by the ANTARES neutrino telescope from 2007 to 2012. The event selection criteria are chosen to maximise the sensitivity to possible signals produced by the self-annihilation of weakly interacting massive particles accumulated around the centre of the Milky Way with respect to the atmospheric background. After data unblinding, the number of neutrinos observed in the line of sight of the Galactic Centre is found to be compatible with background expectations. The 90% C.L. upper limits in terms of the neutrino+anti-neutrino flux, $\rm \Phi_{\nu_{\mu}+\bar{\nu}_\mu}$, and the velocity averaged annihilation cross-section, $\rm <\sigma_{A}v>$, are derived for the WIMP self-annihilation channels into $\rm b\bar{b},W^{+}W^{-},\tau^{+}\tau^{-},\mu^{+}\mu^{-},\nu\bar{\nu}$. The ANTARES limits for $\rm <\sigma_{A}v>$ are shown to be the most stringent for a neutrino telescope over the WIMP masses $\rm 25\,GeV < M_{WIMP} < 10\,TeV$.
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    ABSTRACT: The fundamental parameters describing the coronal spectrum of an accreting black hole are the slope $\Gamma$ of the power-law continuum and the energy $E_{cut}$ at which it rolls over. Remarkably, this parameter can be accurately measured for values as high as 1 MeV by modeling the spectrum of X-rays reflected from a black hole accretion disk at energies below 100 keV. This is possible because the details in the reflection spectrum, rich in fluorescent lines and other atomic features, are very sensitive to the spectral shape of the hardest coronal radiation illuminating the disk. We show that fitting simultaneous NuSTAR (3-79 keV) and low-energy (e.g., Suzaku) data with the most recent version of our reflection model RELXILL, one can obtain reasonable constraints on $E_{cut}$ at energies from tens of keV up to 1 MeV, for a source as faint as 1 mCrab in a 100 ks observation.
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    ABSTRACT: We present spectral analysis of NuSTAR and Swift observations of Cep X-4 during its outburst in 2014. We observed the source once during the peak of the outburst and once during the decay, finding good agreement in the spectral shape between the observations. We describe the continuum using a powerlaw with a Fermi-Dirac cutoff at high energies. Cep X-4 has a very strong cyclotron resonant scattering feature (CRSF) around 30 keV. A simple absorption-like line with a Gaussian optical depth or a pseudo-Lorentzian profile both fail to describe the shape of the CRSF accurately, leaving significant deviations at the red side of the line. We characterize this asymmetry with a second absorption feature around 19 keV. The line energy of the CRSF, which is not influenced by the addition of this feature, shows a small but significant positive luminosity dependence. With luminosities between (1-6)e36 erg/s, Cep X-4 is below the theoretical limit where such a correlation is expected. This behavior is similar to Vela X-1 and we discuss parallels between the two systems.
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    ABSTRACT: Polarization of the >~400 keV hard tail of the microquasar Cygnus X-1 has been independently reported by INTEGRAL/IBIS, and INTEGRAL/SPI and interpreted as emission from a compact jet. These conclusions were, however, based on the accumulation of all INTEGRAL data regardless of the spectral state. We utilize additional INTEGRAL exposure accumulated until December 2012, and include the AMI/Ryle (15 GHz) radio data in our study. We separate the observations into hard, soft, and intermediate/transitional states and detect radio emission from a compact jet in hard and intermediate states, but not in the soft. The 10-400 keV INTEGRAL (JEM-X and IBIS) state resolved spectra are well modeled with thermal Comptonization and reflection components. We detect a hard tail in the 0.4-2 MeV range for the hard state only. We extract the state dependent polarigrams of Cyg X-1, which all are compatible to no or undetectable level of polarization except in 400-2000 keV range in the hard state where the polarization fraction is 75$\pm$32 % and the polarization angle 40.0 +-14 deg. An upper limit on the 0.4-2 MeV soft state polarization fraction is 70%. Due to the short exposure, we obtain no meaningful constraint for the intermediate state. The likely detection of a >400 keV polarized tail in the hard state, together with the simultaneous presence of a radio jet, reinforce the notion of a compact jet origin of the 400 keV emission.
  • 04/2015; 55(2):126. DOI:10.14311/AP.2015.55.0123
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    ABSTRACT: Context: The magnetic field is a crucial ingredient of neutron stars. It governs the physics of accretion and of the resulting high-energy emission in accreting pulsars. Studies of the cyclotron resonant scattering features (CRSFs) seen as absorption lines in the X-ray spectra of the pulsars permit direct measuremets of the field strength. Aims: From an analysis of a number of pointed observations with different instruments, the energy of CRSF, Ecyc, has recently been found to decay in Her X-1, which is one of the best-studied accreting pulsars. We present our analysis of a homogeneous and almost uninterrupted monitoring of the line energy with Swift/BAT. Methods: We analyzed the archival Swift/BAT observations of Her X-1 from 2005 to 2014. The data were used to measure the CRSF energy averaged over several months. Results: The analysis confirms the long-term decay of the line energy. The downward trend is highly significant and consistent with the trend measured with the pointed observations: dEcyc/dt ~-0.3 keV per year. Conclusions: The decay of Ecyc either indicates a local evolution of the magnetic field structure in the polar regions of the neutron star or a geometrical displacement of the line-forming region due to long-term changes in the structure of the X-ray emitting region. The shortness of the observed timescale of the decay, -Ecyc/(dEcyc/dt) ~ 100 yr, suggests that trend reversals and/or jumps of the line energy might be observed in the future.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 04/2015; 578. DOI:10.1051/0004-6361/201526188 · 4.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Fairall 51 is a polar-scattered Seyfert 1 galaxy, a type of active galaxies believed to represent a bridge between unobscured type-1 and obscured type-2 objects. Fairall 51 has shown complex and variable X-ray absorption but only little is known about its origin. In our research, we observed Fairall 51 with the X-ray satellite Suzaku in order to constrain a characteristic time-scale of its variability. We performed timing and spectral analysis of four observations separated by 1.5, 2 and 5.5 day intervals. We found that the 0.5-50 keV broadband X-ray spectra are dominated by a primary power-law emission (with the photon index ~ 2). This emission is affected by at least three absorbers with different ionisations (log(xi) ~ 1-4). The spectrum is further shaped by a reprocessed emission, possibly coming from two regions -- the accretion disc and a more distant scattering region. The accretion disc emission is smeared by the relativistic effects, from which we measured the spin of the black hole as a ~ 0.8 (+-0.2). We found that most of the spectral variability can be attributed to the least ionised absorber whose column density changed by a factor of two between the first (highest-flux) and the last (lowest-flux) observation. A week-long scale of the variability indicates that the absorber is located at the distance ~ 0.05 pc from the centre, i.e., in the Broad Line Region.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 04/2015; 578. DOI:10.1051/0004-6361/201425453 · 4.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The source(s) of the neutrino excess reported by the IceCube Collaboration is unknown. The TANAMI Collaboration recently reported on the multiwavelength emission of six bright, variable blazars which are positionally coincident with two of the most energetic IceCube events. Such objects are prime candidates to be the source of the highest-energy cosmic rays, and thus of associated neutrino emission. We present an analysis of neutrino emission from the six blazars using observations with the ANTARES neutrino telescope. The standard methods of the ANTARES candidate list search are applied to six years of data to search for an excess of muons - and hence their neutrino progenitors - from the directions of the six blazars described by the TANAMI Collaboration, and which are possibly associated with two IceCube events. Monte Carlo simulations of the detector response to both signal and background particle fluxes are used to estimate the sensitivity of this analysis for different possible source neutrino spectra. A maximum-likelihood approach, using the reconstructed energies and arrival directions of through-going muons, is used to identify events with properties consistent with a blazar origin.Both blazars predicted to be the most neutrino-bright in the TANAMI sample (1653-329 and 1714-336) have a signal flux fitted by the likelihood analysis corresponding to approximately one event. This observation is consistent with the blazar-origin hypothesis of the IceCube event IC14 for a broad range of blazar spectra, although an atmospheric origin cannot be excluded. No ANTARES events are observed from any of the other four blazars, including the three associated with IceCube event IC20. This excludes at a 90% confidence level the possibility that this event was produced by these blazars unless the neutrino spectrum is flatter than -2.4.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 03/2015; 576:L8. DOI:10.1051/0004-6361/201525670 · 4.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The EXTraS project (Exploring the X-ray Transient and variable Sky) will harvest the hitherto unexplored temporal domain information buried in the serendipitous data collected by the European Photon Imaging Camera (EPIC) instrument onboard the ESA XMM-Newton X-ray observatory since its launch. This will include a search for fast transients, as well as a search and characterization of variability (both periodic and aperiodic) in hundreds of thousands of sources spanning more than nine orders of magnitude in time scale and six orders of magnitude in flux. X-ray results will be complemented by multiwavelength characterization of new discoveries. Phenomenological classification of variable sources will also be performed. All our results will be made available to the community. A didactic program in selected High Schools in Italy, Germany and the UK will also be implemented. The EXTraS project (2014-2016), funded within the EU/FP7 framework, is carried out by a collaboration including INAF (Italy), IUSS (Italy), CNR/IMATI (Italy), University of Leicester (UK), MPE (Germany) and ECAP (Germany).
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    ABSTRACT: Transient short-period <100s oscillations have been found in the X-ray light curves of three novae during their SSS phase and in one persistent SSS. We pursue an observational approach to determine possible driving mechanisms and relations to fundamental system parameters such as the white dwarf mass. We performed a systematic search for short-period oscillations in all available XMM-Newton and Chandra X-ray light curves of persistent SSS and novae during their SSS phase. To study time evolution, we divided each light curve into short time segments and computed power spectra. We then constructed dynamic power spectra from which we identified transient periodic signals even when only present for a short time. From all time segments of each system, we computed fractions of time when periodic signals were detected. In addition to the previously known systems with short-period oscillations, RS Oph (35s), KT Eri (35s), V339 Del (54s), and Cal 83 (67s), we found one additional system, LMC 2009a (33s), and also confirm the 35s period from Chandra data of KT Eri. The amplitudes of oscillations are of order <15% of the respective count rates and vary without any clear dependence on the X-ray count rate. The fractions of the time when the respective periods were detected at 2-sigma significance (duty cycle) are 11.3%, 38.8%, 16.9%, 49.2%, and 18.7% for LMC 2009a, RS Oph, KT Eri, V339 Del, and Cal 83, respectively. The respective highest duty cycles found in a single observation are 38.1%, 74.5%, 61.4%, 67.8%, and 61.8%.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 02/2015; 578. DOI:10.1051/0004-6361/201425178 · 4.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Binary systems with an accreting compact object are a unique chance to investigate the strong, clumpy, line-driven winds of early type supergiants by using the compact object's X-rays to probe the wind structure. We analyze the two-component wind of HDE 226868, the O9.7Iab giant companion of the black hole Cyg X-1 using 4.77 Ms of RXTE observations of the system taken over the course of 16 years. Absorption changes strongly over the 5.6 d binary orbit, but also shows a large scatter at a given orbital phase, especially at superior conjunction. The orbital variability is most prominent when the black hole is in the hard X-ray state. Our data are poorer for the intermediate and soft state, but show signs for orbital variability of the absorption column in the intermediate state. We quantitatively compare the data in the hard state to a toy model of a focussed Castor-Abbott-Klein-wind: as it does not incorporate clumping, the model does not describe the observations well. A qualitative comparison to a simplified simulation of clumpy winds with spherical clumps shows good agreement in the distribution of the equivalent hydrogen column density for models with a porosity length on the order of the stellar radius at inferior conjunction; we conjecture that the deviations between data and model at superior conjunction could be either due to lack of a focussed wind component in the model or a more complicated clump structure.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 02/2015; DOI:10.1051/0004-6361/201425418 · 4.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Very-high-energy $\gamma$-ray observations of the active galaxy IC 310 with the MAGIC telescopes have revealed fast variability with doubling time scales of less than 4.8min. This implies that the emission region in IC 310 is smaller than 20% of the gravitational radius of the central supermassive black hole with a mass of $3\times 10^8 M_\odot$, which poses serious questions on the emission mechanism and classification of this enigmatic object. We report on the first quasi-simultaneous multi-frequency VLBI observations of IC 310 conducted with the EVN. We find a blazar-like one-sided core-jet structure on parsec scales, constraining the inclination angle to be less than $\sim 20^\circ$ but very small angles are excluded to limit the de-projected length of the large-scale radio jet.
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    ABSTRACT: This is an overview of pulsar accretion modeling. The physics of pulsar accretion, i.e., the process of plasma flow onto the neutron star surface, can be constrained from the spectral properties of the X-ray source. We discuss a new implementation of the physical continuum model developed by Becker and Wolff (2007, ApJ 654, 435). The model incorporates Comptonized blackbody, bremsstrahlung, and cyclotron emission. We discuss preliminary results of applying the new tool to the test cases of Suzaku data of Cen X-3 and XTE J1946+274. Cen X-3 is a persistent accreting pulsar with an O-star companion observed during a bright period. XTE J1946+274 is a transient accreting pulsar with a Be companion observed during a dim period. Both sources show spectra that are well described with an empirical Fermi Dirac cutoff power law model. We extend the spectral analysis by making the first steps towards a physical description of Cen X-3 and XTE J1946+274.
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    ABSTRACT: The jet-counterjet system of the closest radio-loud active galaxy Centaurus A (Cen A) can be studied with Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) on unprecedented small linear scales of ~0.018pc. These high-resolution observations provide essential information on jet emission and propagation within the inner parsec of an AGN jet. We present the results of a kinematic study performed within the framework of the Southern-hemisphere AGN monitoring program TANAMI. Over 3.5years, the evolution of the central-parsec jet structure of Cen A was monitored with VLBI. These observations reveal complex jet dynamics which are well explained by a spine-sheath structure supported by the downstream acceleration occurring where the jet becomes optically thin. Both moving and stationary jet features are tracked. A persistent local minimum in surface brightness suggests the presence of an obstacle interrupting the jet flow, which can be explained by the interaction of the jet with a star at a distance of ~0.4pc from the central black hole. We briefly discuss possible implications of such an interaction regarding the expected neutrino and high-energy emission and the effect on a putative planet.
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    ABSTRACT: Since the discovery of a neutrino flux in excess of the atmospheric background by the IceCube Collaboration, searches for the astrophysical sources have been ongoing. Due to the steeply falling background towards higher energies, the PeV events detected in three years of IceCube data are the most likely ones to be of extraterrestrial origin. Even excluding the PeV events detected so far, the neutrino flux is well above the atmospheric background, so it is likely that a number of sub-PeV events originate from the same astrophysical sources that produce the PeV events. We study the high-energy properties of AGN that are positionally coincident with the neutrino events from three years of IceCube data and show the results for event number 4. IC 4 is a event with a low angular error (7.1$^\circ$) and a large deposited energy of 165 TeV. We use multiwavelength data, including Fermi/LAT and X-ray data, to construct broadband spectra and present parametrizations of the broadband spectral energy distributions with logarithmic parabolas. Assuming the X-ray to {\gamma}-ray emission in blazars originates in the photoproduction of pions by accelerated protons, their predicted neutrino luminosity can be estimated. The measurements of the diffuse extragalactic background by Fermi/LAT gives us an estimate of the flux contributions from faint unresolved blazars. Their contribution increases the number of expected events by a factor of $\sim$2. We conclude that the detection of the IceCube neutrinos IC4, IC14, and IC20 can be explained by the integral emission of blazars, even though no individual source yields a sufficient energy output.
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    ABSTRACT: IC 310 has recently been identified as a gamma-ray emitter based on observations at GeV energies with Fermi-LAT and at very high energies (VHE, E > 100 GeV) with the MAGIC telescopes. Despite IC 310 having been classified as a radio galaxy with the jet observed at an angle > 10 degrees, it exhibits a mixture of multiwavelength properties of a radio galaxy and a blazar, possibly making it a transitional object. On the night of 12/13th of November 2012 the MAGIC telescopes observed a series of violent outbursts from the direction of IC 310 with flux-doubling time scales faster than 5 min and a peculiar spectrum spreading over 2 orders of magnitude. Such fast variability constrains the size of the emission region to be smaller than 20% of the gravitational radius of its central black hole, challenging the shock acceleration models, commonly used in explanation of gamma-ray radiation from active galaxies. Here we will show that this emission can be associated with pulsar-like particle acceleration by the electric field across a magnetospheric gap at the base of the jet.
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    ABSTRACT: This is a White Paper in support of the mission concept of the Large Observatory for X-ray Timing (LOFT), proposed as a medium-sized ESA mission. We discuss the potential of LOFT for the study of high-mass X-ray binaries and ultra-luminous X-ray sources. For a summary, we refer to the paper.
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    ABSTRACT: Multiwavelength observations have revealed the highly unusual properties of the gamma-ray source PMN J1603-4904, which are difficult to reconcile with any other well established gamma-ray source class. The object is either a very atypical blazar or compact jet source seen at a larger angle to the line of sight. In order to determine the physical origin of the high-energy emission processes in PMN J1603-4904, we study the X-ray spectrum in detail. We performed quasi-simultaneous X-ray observations with XMM-Newton and Suzaku in 2013 September, resulting in the first high signal-to-noise X-ray spectrum of this source. The 2-10 keV X-ray spectrum can be well described by an absorbed power law with an emission line at 5.44$\pm$0.05 keV (observed frame). Interpreting this feature as a K{\alpha} line from neutral iron, we determine the redshift of PMN J1603-4904 to be z=0.18$\pm$0.01, corresponding to a luminosity distance of 872$\pm$54 Mpc. The detection of a redshifted X-ray emission line further challenges the original BL Lac classification of PMN J1603-4904. This result suggests that the source is observed at a larger angle to the line of sight than expected for blazars, and thus the source would add to the elusive class of gamma-ray loud misaligned-jet objects, possibly a {\gamma}-ray bright young radio galaxy.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 01/2015; 574. DOI:10.1051/0004-6361/201425442 · 4.48 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

4k Citations
1,065.16 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2006–2015
    • Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
      Erlangen, Bavaria, Germany
  • 2007–2014
    • Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg
      Bamberg, Bavaria, Germany
  • 2013
    • Paris Diderot University
      Lutetia Parisorum, Île-de-France, France
  • 2012
    • Polytechnical University of Valencia
      Valenza, Valencia, Spain
  • 2009–2011
    • Universitätsklinikum Erlangen
      Erlangen, Bavaria, Germany
  • 2010
    • University of Maryland, Baltimore County
      • Center for Space Science and Technology
      Baltimore, Maryland, United States
  • 2004–2008
    • The University of Warwick
      • Department of Physics
      Warwick, ENG, United Kingdom
  • 1970–2008
    • University of Tuebingen
      • Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics
      Tübingen, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany
  • 2002–2007
    • University of California, Berkeley
      Berkeley, California, United States
    • SSL
      Palo Alto, California, United States
  • 2003–2005
    • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2003–2004
    • University of Cambridge
      Cambridge, England, United Kingdom
  • 2001
    • University of Colorado at Boulder
      Boulder, Colorado, United States
  • 1997
    • University of California, San Diego
      • Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences (CASS)
      San Diego, California, United States