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Keywords:

  • accretion, accretion discs;
  • binaries: general;
  • ISM: jets and outflows;
  • X-rays: binaries

ABSTRACT

We investigate the behaviour of the accretion discs in the outbursts of the low-mass black hole X-ray binaries (BHXRBs), an overview of which we have presented previously. Almost all of the systems in which there are sufficient observations in the most-disc-dominated states show a variation in the disc luminosity with temperature close to inline image. This in turn implies that in these states, the disc radius, Rin, and the colour correction factor, fcol, are almost constant. Deviations away from the T4 law are observed at the beginning and end of the most-disc-dominated states, during the intermediate states. Although these could be explained by an inward motion of the accretion disc, they are more likely to be the result of an increase in the value of fcol as the disc fraction decreases. By comparing the expected and observed disc luminosities, we place approximate limits on the allowed distances and masses of the BHXRB system. In a number of cases, the measured distances and masses of the BHXRB system indicate that it is possible that the black hole may be spinning.