Eclipses of jets and discs of X-ray binaries as a powerful tool for understanding jet physics and binary parameters

Thomas J. MacCarone, Jakob Van Den Eijnden, Thomas D. Russell, Nathalie Degenaar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


We calculate the expected effects on the spectral energy distributions and light curves in X-ray binary jets from eclipses by the donor stars. Jets will be eclipsed for all inclination angles, with just the height along the jet where the eclipse takes place being set by the orbital parameters. Typically, eclipses will lead to 5-10 per cent reductions in the jet emission over a range of a factor of few in wavelength with a periodic modulation. In ideal systems with high inclination angles, relatively even mass ratios, and modest jet speeds, the eclipses may be deeper. We discuss how eclipses can be used to measure binary system parameters, as well as the height of the bases of the jets. We also discuss how, with data sets that will likely require future facilities, more detailed tests of models of jet physics could be made by establishing deviations from the standard recipes for compact conical flat spectrum jets and by determining the ingress and egress durations of the eclipses and measuring the transverse size of the jets. We provide representative calculations of expectations for different classes of systems, demonstrating that the most promising target for showing this effect in the radio band is the longer period 'atoll'-class neutron star X-ray binaries, while in the optical and infrared bands, the best candidates are likely to be the most edge-on black hole X-ray binaries. We also discuss the effects of the outer accretion disc eclipsing the inner jet.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)957-973
Number of pages17
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • Accretion, accretion discs
  • Binaries, eclipsing
  • Stars:jets
  • Stars:neutron
  • X-rays:binaries


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