A black hole X-ray binary at ∼100 Hz: Multiwavelength timing of MAXI J1820+070 with HiPERCAM and NICER

J. A. Paice, P. Gandhi, T. Shahbaz, P. Uttley, Z. Arzoumanian, P. A. Charles, V. S. Dhillon, K. C. Gendreau, S. P. Littlefair, J. Malzac, S. Markoff, T. R. Marsh, R. Misra, D. M. Russell, A. Veledina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We report on simultaneous sub-second optical and X-ray timing observations of the low-mass X-ray binary black hole candidate MAXI J1820+070. The bright 2018 outburst rise allowed simultaneous photometry in five optical bands (ugrizs) with HiPERCAM/GTC (Optical) at frame rates over 100 Hz, together with NICER/ISS observations (X-rays). Intense (factor of 2) red flaring activity in the optical is seen over a broad range of time-scales down to ∼10 ms. Cross-correlating the bands reveals a prominent anticorrelation on time-scales of ∼seconds, and a narrow sub-second correlation at a lag of ≈ +165 ms (optical lagging X-rays). This lag increases with optical wavelength, and is approximately constant over Fourier frequencies of ∼0.3-10 Hz. These features are consistent with an origin in the inner accretion flow and jet base within ∼5000 Gravitational radii. An additional ∼+5 s lag feature may be ascribable to disc reprocessing. MAXI J1820+070 is the third black hole transient to display a clear ∼0.1 s optical lag, which may be common feature in such objects. The sub-second lag variation with wavelength is novel, and may allow constraints on internal shock jet stratification models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L62-L66
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019


  • X-rays: binaries
  • X-rays: individual: MAXI J1820+070
  • accretion, accretion discs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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