How X-ray binaries can help unify jet physics
The fastest flows of matter in our Galaxy are launched in X-ray binaries, in the close vicinity of an accreting black hole or neutron star. These collimated, relativistic outflows produce synchrotron
radiation that spans the whole electromagnetic spectrum from radio to X-ray and possibly gamma-ray. Here I discuss the broadband observational properties of jets in X-ray binaries, focussing on some important recent results in this field. Studies are now starting to reveal how jets evolve with mass accretion rate and the mode of accretion, providing insights into the conditions required to launch jets. Sites of interaction between X-ray binary jets and their environment have revealed that most of their power is locked in the kinetic flow. In addition, disc-jet coupling, rapid variability and polarimetry help constrain the jet speed, magnetic field properties and other physical parameters essential for jet models. Scaling laws exist, both theoretically and empirically, between stellar-mass and supermassive black holes in AGN. Therefore, the study of rapidly evolving X-ray binaries can directly infer properties of the most powerful engines in the universe, the AGN.
David Russell completed his PhD at the University of Southampton (UK) in November 2007. After four years of postdoctoral research at the University of Amsterdam (Netherlands) he was awarded a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship for Career Development, to work at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias in Tenerife, Spain, which he started in November 2011. His research concerns primarily the role of synchrotron emission from X-ray binary jets in the optical/infrared
and other wavelengths in these objects.