Accretion-induced variability links young stellar objects, white dwarfs, and black holes

Simone Scaringi, Thomas J. MacCarone, Elmar Körding, Christian Knigge, Simon Vaughan, Thomas R. Marsh, Ester Aranzana, Vikram S. Dhillon, Susana C.C. Barros

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The central engines of disc-accreting stellar-mass black holes appear to be scaled down versions of the supermassive black holes that power active galactic nuclei. However, if the physics of accretion is universal, it should also be possible to extend this scaling to other types of accreting systems, irrespective of accretor mass, size, or type. We examine new observations, obtained with Kepler/K2 and ULTRACAM, regarding accreting white dwarfs and young stellar objects. Every object in the sample displays the same linear correlation between the brightness of the source and its amplitude of variability (rms-flux relation) and obeys the same quantitative scaling relation as stellarmass black holes and active galactic nuclei. We also show that the most important parameter in this scaling relation is the physical size of the accreting object. This establishes the universality of accretion physics from proto-stars still in the star-forming process to the supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1500686
JournalScience Advances
Issue number9
StatePublished - Oct 2015


Cite this

Scaringi, S., MacCarone, T. J., Körding, E., Knigge, C., Vaughan, S., Marsh, T. R., Aranzana, E., Dhillon, V. S., & Barros, S. C. C. (2015). Accretion-induced variability links young stellar objects, white dwarfs, and black holes. Science Advances, 1(9), [1500686].