M. Mendez

University of Groningen, Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands

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Publications (230)838.03 Total impact

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    Ming Lyu, Mariano Mendez, Diego Altamirano
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    ABSTRACT: We detected millihertz quasi-periodic oscillations (QPOs) in an XMM-Newton observation of the neutron-star low-mass X-ray binary 4U 1636-53. These QPOs have been interpreted as marginally-stable burning on the neutron-star surface. At the beginning of the observation the QPO was at around 8 mHz, together with a possible second harmonic. About 12 ks into the observation a type I X-ray burst occurred and the QPO disappeared; the QPO reappeared ~25 ks after the burst and it was present until the end of the observation. We divided the observation into four segments to study the evolution of the spectral properties of the source during intervals with and without mHz QPO. We find that the temperature of the neutron-star surface increases from the QPO segment to the non-QPO segment, and vice versa. We also find a strong correlation between the frequency of the mHz QPO and the temperature of a black-body component in the energy spectrum representing the temperature of neutron-star surface. Our results are consistent with previous results that the frequency of the mHz QPO depends on the variation of the heat flux from the neutron star crust, and therefore supports the suggestion that the observed QPO frequency drifts could be caused by the cooling of deeper layers.
    09/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Both the broad iron (Fe) line and the frequency of the kilohertz quasi-periodic oscillations (kHz QPOs) in neutron star low-mass X-ray binaries (LMXBs) can potentially provide independent measures of the inner radius of the accretion disc. We use XMM-Newton and simultaneous Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer observations of the LMXB 4U 1636-53 to test this hypothesis. We study the properties of the Fe-K emission line as a function of the spectral state of the source and the frequency of the kHz QPOs. We find that the inner radius of the accretion disc deduced from the frequency of the upper kHz QPO varies as a function of the position of the source in the colour-colour diagram, in accordance with previous work and with the standard scenario of accretion disc geometry. On the contrary, the inner disc radius deduced from the profile of the Fe line is not correlated with the spectral state of the source. The values of the inner radius inferred from kHz QPOs and Fe lines, in four observations, do not lead to a consistent value of the neutron star mass, regardless of the model used to fit the Fe line. Our results suggest that either the kHz QPO or the standard relativistic Fe line interpretation does not apply for this system. Furthermore, the simultaneous detection of kHz QPOs and broad Fe lines is difficult to reconcile with models in which the broadening of the Fe line is due to the reprocessing of photons in an outflowing wind.
    03/2014; 440(4).
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    ABSTRACT: We used six simultaneous XMM-Newton and Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer plus five Suzaku observations to study the continuum spectrum and the iron emission line in the neutron-star low-mass X-ray binary 4U 1636-53. We modelled the spectra with two thermal components (representing the accretion disc and boundary layer), a Comptonised component (representing a hot corona), and either a Gaussian or a relativistic line component to model an iron emission line at about 6.5 keV. For the relativistic line component we used either the diskline, laor or kyrline model, the latter for three different values of the spin parameter. The fitting results for the continuum are consistent with the standard truncated disc scenario. We also find that the flux and equivalent width of the iron line first increase and then decrease as the flux of the Comptonised component increases. This could be explained either by changes in the ionisation state of the accretion disc where the line is produced by reflection, or by light bending of the emission from the Comptonised component if the height at which this component is produced changes with mass accretion rate.
    02/2014; 440(2).
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    ABSTRACT: We report on the X-ray spectral (using XMM-Newton data) and timing behavior (using XMM-Newton and Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer [RXTE] data) of the very faint X-ray transient and black hole system Swift J1357.2-0933 during its 2011 outburst. The XMM-Newton X-ray spectrum of this source can be adequately fitted with a soft thermal component with a temperature of ~0.22 keV (using a disc model) and a hard, non-thermal component with a photon index of ~1.6 when using a simple power-law model. In addition, an edge at ~ 0.73 keV is needed likely due to interstellar absorption. During the first RXTE observation we find a 6 mHz quasi-periodic oscillation (QPO) which is not present during any of the later RXTE observations or during the XMM-Newton observation which was taken 3 days after the first RXTE observation. The nature of this QPO is not clear but it could be related to a similar QPO seen in the black hole system H 1743-322 and to the so-called 1 Hz QPO seen in the dipping neutron-star X-ray binaries (although this later identification is quite speculative). The observed QPO has similar frequencies as the optical dips seen previously in this source during its 2011 outburst but we cannot conclusively determine that they are due to the same underlying physical mechanism. Besides the QPO, we detect strong band-limited noise in the power-density spectra of the source (as calculated from both the RXTE and the XMM-Newton data) with characteristic frequencies and strengths very similar to other black hole X-ray transients when they are at low X-ray luminosities. We discuss the spectral and timing properties of the source in the context of the proposed very high inclination of this source. We conclude that all the phenomena seen from the source cannot, as yet, be straightforwardly explained neither by an edge-on configuration nor by any other inclination configuration of the orbit.
    08/2013; 439(4).
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    ABSTRACT: We measured the phase-lag spectrum of the high-frequency quasi-periodic oscillations (QPO) in the black hole systems (at QPO frequencies) GRS 1915+105 (35 Hz and 67 Hz), GRO J1655-40 (300 Hz and 450 Hz), XTE J1550-564 (180 Hz and 280 Hz), and IGR J17091-3624 (67 Hz). The lag spectra of the 67-Hz QPO in, respectively, GRS 1915+105 and IGR J17091-3624, and the 450-Hz QPO in GRO J1655-40 are hard (hard photons lag the soft ones) and consistent with each other, with the hard lags increasing with energy. On the contrary, the lags of the 35-Hz QPO in GRS 1915+105 are soft, with the lags becoming softer as the energy increases; the lag spectrum of the 35-Hz QPO is inconsistent with that of the 67-Hz QPO. The lags of the 300-Hz QPO in GRO J1655-40, and the 180-Hz and the 280-Hz QPO in XTE J1550-564 are independent of energy, consistent with each other and with being zero or slightly positive (hard lags). For GRO J1655-40 the lag spectrum of the 300-Hz QPO differs significantly from that of the 450-Hz QPOs. The similarity of the lag spectra of the 180-Hz and 280-Hz QPO in XTE J1550-564 suggests that these two are the same QPO seen at a different frequency in different observations. The lag spectrum of the 67-Hz QPO in GRS 1915+105 is significantly different from that of the $2.7 \times 10^{-4}$ Hz QPO in the narrow-line Seyfert 1 galaxy RE J1034+396, which disproves the suggestion that the two QPOs are the same physical phenomenon with their frequencies scaled only by the black-hole mass. The lag spectrum of the QPO in RE J1034+396 is similar to that of the 35-Hz QPO in GRS 1915+105, although identifying these two QPOs as being the same physical feature remains problematic. We compare our results with those for the lags of the kilohertz QPOs in neutron-star systems and the broadband noise component in active galactic nuclei, and discuss possible scenarios for producing the lags in these systems.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 08/2013; 435(3). · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This White Paper, submitted to the recent ESA call for science themes to define its future large missions, advocates the need for a transformational leap in our understanding of two key questions in astrophysics: 1) How does ordinary matter assemble into the large scale structures that we see today? 2) How do black holes grow and shape the Universe? Hot gas in clusters, groups and the intergalactic medium dominates the baryonic content of the local Universe. To understand the astrophysical processes responsible for the formation and assembly of these large structures, it is necessary to measure their physical properties and evolution. This requires spatially resolved X-ray spectroscopy with a factor 10 increase in both telescope throughput and spatial resolving power compared to currently planned facilities. Feedback from supermassive black holes is an essential ingredient in this process and in most galaxy evolution models, but it is not well understood. X-ray observations can uniquely reveal the mechanisms launching winds close to black holes and determine the coupling of the energy and matter flows on larger scales. Due to the effects of feedback, a complete understanding of galaxy evolution requires knowledge of the obscured growth of supermassive black holes through cosmic time, out to the redshifts where the first galaxies form. X-ray emission is the most reliable way to reveal accreting black holes, but deep survey speed must improve by a factor ~100 over current facilities to perform a full census into the early Universe. The Advanced Telescope for High Energy Astrophysics (Athena+) mission provides the necessary performance (e.g. angular resolution, spectral resolution, survey grasp) to address these questions and revolutionize our understanding of the Hot and Energetic Universe. These capabilities will also provide a powerful observatory to be used in all areas of astrophysics.
    06/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: White dwarfs, neutron stars and stellar mass black holes are key laboratories to study matter in most extreme conditions of gravity and magnetic field. The unprecedented effective area of Athena+ will allow us to advance our understanding of emission mechanisms and accretion physics over a wide range of mass accretion rates, starting from lower and sub-luminous quiescent X-ray binaries up to super-Eddington ultra-luminous sources. Athena+ will measure stellar black hole spins in a much higher number of binaries than achievable now, opening the possibility to study how spin varies with black hole history. The high throughput and energy resolution of the X-IFU will be instrumental in establishing how disc wind properties depend on accretion state, in determining wind launching mechanism and in quantifying the impact of the wind induced mass loss on binary evolution and environment. Triggers and high quality optical and radio data originating from large wide field contemporaneous instruments will provide essential complementary information on jet launching mechanisms and on the physics of rotation powered pulsars, for instance. In addition, Athena+ will furnish multiple, independent measurements of the neutron star mass/radius relation in a wide range of environments and conditions so as to constrain the debated equation of state.
    06/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: We analysed the X-ray spectra of six observations, simultaneously taken with XMM-Newton and Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE), of the neutron-star low-mass X-ray binary 4U 1636-53. The observations cover several states of the source, and therefore a large range of inferred mass accretion rate. These six observations show a broad emission line in the spectrum at around 6.5 keV, likely due to iron. We fitted this line with a set of phenomenological models of a relativistically broadened line, plus a model that accounts for relativistically smeared and ionized reflection from the accretion disc. The latter model includes the incident emission from both the neutron-star surface or boundary layer and the corona that is responsible for the high-energy emission in these systems. From the fits with the reflection model we found that in four out of the six observations the main contribution to the reflected spectrum comes from the neutron-star surface or boundary layer, whereas in the other two observations the main contribution to the reflected spectrum comes from the corona. We found that the relative contribution of these two components is not correlated to the state of the source. From the phenomenological models, we found that the iron line profile is better described by a symmetric, albeit broad, profile. The width of the line cannot be explained only by Compton broadening, and we therefore explored the case of relativistic broadening. We further found that the direct emission from the disc, boundary layer and corona generally evolved in a manner consistent with the standard accretion disc model, with the disc and boundary layer becoming hotter and the disc moving inwards as the source changed from the hard to the soft state. The iron line, however, did not appear to follow the same trend.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 06/2013; 432(2):1144-1161. · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: (abridged) We studied the energy and frequency dependence of the Fourier time lags and intrinsic coherence of the kHz QPOs in the NS LMXBs 4U 1608-52 and 4U 1636-53 using RXTE data. In both sources we confirmed energy-dependent soft lags of 10-100 \mu s for the lower kHz QPO. We also found that the time lags of the upper kHz QPO are independent of energy and inconsistent with the soft lags of the lower kHz QPO. The intrinsic coherence of the lower kHz QPO remains constant at 0.6 from 5 to 12 keV, and then drops to zero, while for the upper kHz QPO the intrinsic coherence is consistent with zero across the full energy range. The intrinsic coherence of the upper kHz QPO is consistent with zero over the full frequency range of the QPO, except in 4U 1636-53 at ~780 Hz where it increases to 0.13. In 4U 1636-53, for the lower kHz QPO the 4-12 keV photons lag the 12-20 keV ones by 25 \mu s in the QPO frequency range 500-850 Hz, with the lags decreasing to 15 \mu s at higher frequencies. In 4U 1608-52 the soft lags of the lower kHz QPO remain constant at 40 \mu s. In 4U 1636-53, for the upper kHz QPO the 12-20 keV photons lag the 4-12 keV ones by 11 +/- 3 \mu s, independent of QPO frequency; we found consistent results for the time lags of the upper kHz QPO in 4U 1608-52. The intrinsic coherence of the lower kHz QPO increases from ~0-0.4 at 600 Hz to 1 and 0.6 at 800 Hz in 4U 1636-53 and 4U 1608-52, respectively. In 4U 1636-53 it decreases to 0.5 at 920 Hz, while in 4U 1608-52 we do not have data above 800 Hz. We discuss our results in the context of scenarios in which the soft lags are either due to reflection off the accretion disc or up-/down-scattering in a hot medium close to the neutron star. We finally explore the connection between, on one hand the time lags and the intrinsic coherence of the kHz QPOs, and on the other the QPOs' amplitude and quality factor in these two sources.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 02/2013; 433(4). · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present a spectral analysis of the black hole candidate and X-ray transient source Swift J1753.5 0127 making use of simultaneous observations of XMM-Newton and Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) in 2006, when the source was in outburst. The aim of this paper is to test whether a thermal component due to the accretion disc is present in the X-ray spectrum. We fit the data with a range of spectral models, and we find that for all of these models the fits to the X-ray energy spectra significantly require the addition of the disc black-body component. We also find a broad iron emission line at around 6.5 keV, most likely due to iron in the accretion disc. Our results confirm the existence of a cool inner disc extending near or close to the innermost circular orbit (ISCO).We further discovered broad emission lines of NVII and OVIII at ~ 0.52 keV and 0.65 keV, respectively in the RGS spectrum of Swift J1753.5-0127.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 02/2013; 431(3). · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    Federico García, Guobao Zhang, Mariano Méndez
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    ABSTRACT: We analysed the complete set of bursts from the neutron-star low-mass X-ray binary 4U 1820-30 detected with the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE). We found that all are photospheric radius expansion bursts, and have similar duration, peak flux and fluence. From the analysis of time-resolved spectra during the cooling phase of the bursts, we found that the relation between the bolometric flux and the temperature is very different from the canonical F - T^4 relation that is expected if the apparent emitting area on the surface of the neutron star remains constant. The flux-temperature relation can be fitted using a broken power law, with indices 2.0$\pm$0.3 and 5.72$\pm$0.06. The departure from the F - T^4 relation during the cooling phase of the X-ray bursts in 4U 1820-30 could be due to changes in the emitting area of the neutron star while the atmosphere cools-down, variations in the colour-correction factor due to chemical evolution, or the presence of a source of heat, e.g. residual hydrogen nuclear burning, playing an important role when the burst emission ceases.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 01/2013; 429(4). · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present our monitoring campaign of the outburst of the black-hole candidate Swift J1753.5-0127, observed with the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer and the Swift satellites. After ~4.5 years since its discovery, the source had a transition to the hard intermediate state. We performed spectral and timing studies of the transition showing that, unlike the majority of the transient black holes, the system did not go to the soft states but it returned to the hard state after a few months. During this transition Swift J1753.5-0127 features properties which are similar to those displayed by the black hole Cygnus X-1. We compared Swift J1753.5-0127 to one dynamically confirmed black hole and two neutron stars showing that its power spectra are in agreement with the binary hosting a black hole. We also suggest that the prolonged period at low flux that followed the initial flare is reminiscent of that observed in other X-ray binaries, as well as in cataclysmic variables.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 11/2012; 429(2). · 5.52 Impact Factor
  • 10/2012;
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    ABSTRACT: The LOFT mission concept is one of four candidates selected by ESA for the M3 launch opportunity as Medium Size missions of the Cosmic Vision programme. The launch window is currently planned for between 2022 and 2024. LOFT is designed to exploit the diagnostics of rapid X-ray flux and spectral variability that directly probe the motion of matter down to distances very close to black holes and neutron stars, as well as the physical state of ultra-dense matter. These primary science goals will be addressed by a payload composed of a Large Area Detector (LAD) and a Wide Field Monitor (WFM). The LAD is a collimated (<1 degree field of view) experiment operating in the energy range 2-50 keV, with a 10 m^2 peak effective area and an energy resolution of 260 eV at 6 keV. The WFM will operate in the same energy range as the LAD, enabling simultaneous monitoring of a few-steradian wide field of view, with an angular resolution of <5 arcmin. The LAD and WFM experiments will allow us to investigate variability from submillisecond QPO's to year-long transient outbursts. In this paper we report the current status of the project.
    Experimental Astronomy 09/2012; 34(2). · 2.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We studied the low-frequency quasi-periodic oscillations (LFQPOs) in the black hole GRO J1655-40 during the 2005 outburst, using data from the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer. All LFQPOs could be identified as either type B or type C using previously proposed classification schemes. In the soft state of the outburst the type-C LFQPOs reached frequencies that are among the highest ever seen for LFQPOs in black holes. At the peak of the outburst, in the ultra-luminous state, the power spectrum showed two simultaneous, non-harmonically related peaks which we identified as a type-B and a type-C QPO. The simultaneous presence of a type-C and type-B QPO shows that at least two of the three known LFQPO types are intrinsically different and likely the result of distinct physical mechanisms. We also studied the properties of a broad peaked noise component in the power spectra of the ultra-luminous state. This noise component becomes more coherent with count rate and there are strong suggestions that it evolves into a type-B QPO at the highest observed count rates.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 09/2012; 427(1). · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    Tomaso M. Belloni, Andrea Sanna, Mariano Mendez
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    ABSTRACT: We present the results of the analysis of a large database of X-ray observations of 22 galactic black-hole transients with the Rossi X-Ray timing explorer throughout its operative life for a total exposure time of ~12 Ms. We excluded persistent systems and the peculiar source GRS 1915+105, as well as the most recently discovered sources. The semi-automatic homogeneous analysis was aimed at the detection of high-frequency (100-1000 Hz) quasi-periodic oscillations (QPO), of which several cases were previously reported in the literature. After taking into account the number of independent trials, we obtained 11 detections from two sources only: XTE J1550-564 and GRO J1655-40. For the former, the detected frequencies are clustered around 180 Hz and 280 Hz, as previously found. For the latter, the previously-reported dichotomy 300-450 Hz is found to be less sharp. We discuss our results in comparison with kHz QPO in neutron-star X-ray binaries and the prospects for future timing X-ray missions.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 07/2012; 426(3). · 5.52 Impact Factor
  • 07/2012;
  • 07/2012;
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    ABSTRACT: We analysed all archival RXTE observations of the neutron-star low-mass X-ray binary 4U 1636-53 up to May 2010. In 528 out of 1280 observations we detected kilohertz quasi-periodic oscillations (kHz QPOs), with ~ 65% of these detections corresponding to the so-called lower kHz QPO. Using this QPO we measured, for the first time, the rate at which the QPO frequency changes as a function of QPO frequency. For this we used the spread of the QPO frequency over groups of 10 consecutive measurements, sampling timescales between 320 and 1600 s, and the time derivative of the QPO frequency over timescales of 32 to 160 s. We found that: (i) Both the QPO-frequency spread and the QPO time derivative decrease by a factor ~ 3 as the QPO frequency increases. (ii) The average value of the QPO time derivative decreases by a factor of ~ 2 as the timescale over which the derivative is measured increases from less than 64 s to 160 s. (iii) The relation between the absolute value of the QPO time derivative and the QPO frequency is consistent with being the same both for the positive and negative QPO-frequency derivative. We show that, if either the lower or the upper kHz QPO reflects the Keplerian frequency at the inner edge of the accretion disc, these results support a scenario in which the inner part of the accretion disc is truncated at a radius that is set by the combined effect of viscosity and radiation drag.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 06/2012; 424(4). · 5.52 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

2k Citations
838.03 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2006–2014
    • University of Groningen
      • Kapteyn Astronomical Institute
      Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands
  • 2001–2012
    • Netherlands Institute for Space Research, Utrecht
      Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands
  • 2009–2011
    • GGD Groningen
      Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands
    • University of Rome Tor Vergata
      • Dipartimento di Fisica
      Roma, Latium, Italy
  • 2007–2010
    • Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
      • Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
  • 1997–2009
    • University of Amsterdam
      • Astronomical Institute Anton Pannekoek
      Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands
  • 2004–2008
    • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
      • Department of Physics
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2001–2008
    • National University of La Plata
      • Facultad de Ciencias Astronómicas y Geofísicas
      La Plata, Provincia de Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • 2005–2007
    • Universiteit Utrecht
      • Astronomical Institute
      Utrecht, Provincie Utrecht, Netherlands
  • 2002
    • NASA
      Washington, West Virginia, United States
  • 1999
    • University of Crete
      Retimo, Crete, Greece
  • 1998
    • University of Alabama in Huntsville
      • Department of Physics
      Huntsville, Alabama, United States