AstroAI Publication Mapping the Variability of a Binary Black Hole
25 Jan 2023 - Cecilia Garraffo
AstroAI affiliate Benjamin Ricketts has recently published the following paper:
Mapping the X-ray variability of GRS1915+105 with machine learning
Black hole X-ray binary systems (BHBs) contain a close companion star accreting onto a stellar-mass black hole. A typical BHB undergoes transient outbursts during which it exhibits a sequence of long-lived spectral states, each of which is relatively stable. GRS 1915+105 is a unique BHB that exhibits an unequaled number and variety of distinct variability patterns in X-rays. Many of these patterns contain unusual behaviour not seen in other sources. These variability patterns have been sorted into different classes based on count rate and color characteristics by Belloni et al (2000). In order to remove human decision-making from the pattern-recognition process, we employ an unsupervised machine learning algorithm called an auto-encoder to learn what classifications are naturally distinct by allowing the algorithm to cluster observations. We focus on observations taken by the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer’s Proportional Counter Array. We find that the auto-encoder closely groups observations together that are classified as similar under the Belloni et al (2000) system, but that there is reasonable grounds for defining each class as made up of components from 3 groups of distinct behaviour.
The paper can be found here: https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2023arXiv230110467R/abstract