- Polarized infrared emission from X-ray binary jets
- Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
- Volume | Issue number
- 387 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy (API)
Near-infrared (NIR) and optical polarimetric observations of a selection of X-ray binaries are presented. The targets were observed using the Very Large Telescope and the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope. We detect a significant level (3 sigma) of linear polarization in four sources. The polarization is found to be intrinsic (at the > 3 sigma level) in two sources; GRO J1655-40 (similar to 4-7 per cent in the H and K-s bands during an outburst) and Sco X-1 (similar to 0.1-0.9 per cent in the H and K bands), which is stronger at lower frequencies. This is likely to be the signature of optically thin synchrotron emission from the collimated jets in these systems, whose presence indicates that a partially ordered magnetic field is present at the inner regions of the jets. In Sco X-1, the intrinsic polarization is variable (and sometimes absent) in the H and K bands. In the J band (i.e. at higher frequencies), the polarization is not significantly variable and is consistent with an interstellar origin. The optical light from GX 339-4 is also polarized, but at a level and position angle consistent with scattering by interstellar dust. The other polarized source is SS 433, which has a low level (0.5-0.8 per cent) of J-band polarization, likely due to local scattering. The NIR counterparts of GRO J0422+32, XTE J1118+480, 4U 0614+09 and Aql X-1 (which were all in or near quiescence) have a linear polarization level of < 16 per cent (3 sigma upper limit, some are < 6 per cent). We discuss how such observations may be used to constrain the ordering of the magnetic field close to the base of the jet in such systems.
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