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An opaque shell around Hercules X-1
McCray, R.; Lamb, F. K.
Astrophysical Journal, vol. 204, Mar. 15, 1976, pt. 2, p. L115-L118. (ApJL Homepage)
Publication Date:
NASA/STI Keywords:
Astronomical Models, Pulsars, Stellar Magnetic Fields, Stellar Models, X Ray Stars, Earth Magnetosphere, Stellar Envelopes, Stellar Luminosity, Stellar Temperature, X Ray Spectra
Bibliographic Code:


It is suggested that the observed soft X-rays from Her X-1 are the result of an opaque gas shell which surrounds the neutron star at a radius where centrifugal force and the magnetic field impede the gravitational infall of the gas and which absorbs a substantial fraction of the hard X-ray flux, reradiating it as soft X-rays. Two highly idealized models for the shell are constructed in which the radius and temperature are 7000 km and 550,000 K or 1300 km and 1.5 million K, respectively. These models are intended to show that a gas shell with interesting spectral characteristics is likely to occur at a radius of 2000 to 7000 km from the neutron star if the magnetic field impedes the gas infall at this radius and that such a shell is indicated by the soft X-ray observations. A possible geometry is considered wherein the shell is a wide opaque ring at the magnetic equator, becomes transparent at high latitudes, and becomes opaque again at the magnetic poles.

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