Observations of the disk/jet coupling of MAXI J1820+070 during its descent to quiescence

A. W. Shaw, R. M. Plotkin, J. C.A. Miller-Jones, J. Homan, E. Gallo, D. M. Russell, J. A. Tomsick, P. Kaaret, S. Corbel, M. Espinasse, J. Bright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Black hole X-ray binaries in the quiescent state (Eddington ratios typically ≲10−5) display softer X-ray spectra (photon indices Γ ∼ 2) compared to higher-luminosity black hole X-ray binaries in the hard state (Γ ∼ 1.7). However, the cause of this softening and its implications for the underlying accretion flow are still uncertain. Here, we present quasi-simultaneous X-ray and radio spectral monitoring of the black hole X-ray binary MAXI J1820 +070 during the decay of its 2018 outburst and of a subsequent reflare in 2019, providing an opportunity to monitor a black hole X-ray binary as it actively transitions into quiescence. We probe 1-10 keV X-ray luminosities as low as LX ∼ 4 × 1032 erg s−1, equivalent to Eddington fractions of ∼4 × 10−7. During its decay toward quiescence, the X-ray spectrum of MAXI J1820+070 softens from Γ ∼ 1.7 to Γ ∼ 2, with the softening taking ∼30 days and completing at LX ≈ 1034 erg s−1 (≈10−5 LEdd). While the X-ray spectrum softens, the radio spectrum generally remains flat or inverted throughout the decay. We also find that MAXI J1820+070 follows a radio (LR)-X-ray luminosity correlation of the form LR ∝ LX0.52±0.07, making it the fourth black hole system to follow the so-called “standard track” unbroken over several (in this case, four) decades in LX. Comparing the radio/X-ray spectral evolution(s) with the LR-LX plane, we find that the X-ray softening is consistent with X-rays produced by Comptonization processes in a radiatively inefficient accretion flow. We generally disfavor X-ray emission originating solely from within the jet, with the possible exception of X-rays produced via synchrotron self-Compton processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberabd1de
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 20 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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