On the radio emitting high mass X-ray binary LS 5039

Clark, J. S.; Reig, P.; Goodwin, S. P.; Larionov, V. M.; Blay, P.; Coe, M. J.; Fabregat, J.; Negueruela, I.; Papadakis, I. and Steele, I. A. (2001). On the radio emitting high mass X-ray binary LS 5039. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 376(2) pp. 476–483.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20010919


We present new optical - near-IR spectroscopic and photometric observations of the newly discovered galactic microquasar LS 5039, which indicate a classification for the mass donor in the system of O6.5V((f)). Optical spectroscopy and photometry shows no variability over a timescale of years, and we find no evidence of modulation by, or emission from the compact companion in these data. However significant photometric variability (~0.4 mag) is present in the H and K bands between 1995-2000. Such variability has been observed in other radio bright X-ray binaries where it has been attributed to synchrotron emission from the jet. However, given the non-thermal spectral index of the radio emission in LS 5039 this explanation appears unlikely, predicting a near-IR flux ~3 orders of magnitude too small to contribute significantly at such wavelengths. Nightly optical photometry over a 21 day period between 2000 May-June reveals variability at a level of a few hundredths of a magnitude, with no periodicity or long term trend visible. Likewise, while the radio lightcurves show moderate variability ( per cent of the mean flux density) we find no evidence of periodic modulation - Monte Carlo simulations constrain any such periodic variability to <4 per cent modulation at 2.25 GHz. The differences in behaviour between LS 5039 and Cygnus X-1 - the most closely related radio emitting High Mass X-ray Binary - are likely to be a result of the weaker stellar wind and probable greater orbital separation of LS 5039 compared to Cyg X-1.

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