NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2004B-0397

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Proposal Information for 2004B-0397


PI: Robert Hynes, The University of Texas at Austin, rih@astro.as.utexas.edu
Address: Astronomy Department, 1 University Station C1400, Austin, Texas 78712, USA

CoI: Dawn Gelino, The University of California at San Diego
CoI: Edward Robinson, The University of Texas at Austin
CoI: Martin Bitner, The University of Texas at Austin

Title: The Impact of Infrared Contamination on Black Hole Masses and Quiescent Accretion Disk Models

Abstract: Almost all of our knowledge of the masses of stellar mass black holes is derived from quiescent black hole binaries. Crucial to these measurements is the binary inclination derived from infrared ellipsoidal modulations of the tidally distorted companion star. Existing results assume that the infrared is uncontaminated by light from the residual accretion disk. This important assumption is questionable, however, and if it is incorrect then black hole masses have been overestimated. In fact, based on recent disk models, there is good reason to expect some contamination. We therefore propose to perform a more rigorous test than previously possible by obtaining and modeling both infrared and optical light curves \it simultaneously. These observations will measure the differential veiling between the optical and IR, disentangle contamination from the light curves, and search for IR counterparts to the rapid flares seen in the optical. Hence we will establish if the black hole masses have been overestimated, while probing the astrophysics of the quiescent accretion disk.


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