We conduct a detailed case study of the interstellar shell near the high-mass X-ray binary, Cygnus X-1. We present new WIYN optical spectroscopic and Chandra X-ray observations of this region, which we compare with detailed MAPPINGS III shock models, to investigate the outflow powering the shell. Our analysis places improved, physically motivated constraints on the nature of the shock wave and the interstellar medium (ISM) it is plowing through. We find that the shock is travelling at less than a few hundred km s-1 through a low-density ISM (<5 cm-3). We calculate a robust, 3s upper limit to the total, time-averaged power needed to drive the shock wave and inflate the bubble, <2 × 1038 erg s-1. We then review possible origins of the shock wave. We find that a supernova origin to the shock wave is unlikely and that the black hole jet and/or O-star wind can both be central drivers of the shock wave. We conclude that the source of the Cygnus X-1 shock wave is far from solved.
- ISM: jets and outflows
- Shock waves
- X-rays: binaries
- X-rays: individual: cygnus X-1