Chemical abundances of the secondary star in the black hole X-ray binary XTE J1118+480

Jonay I. González Hernández, Rafael Rebolo, Garik Israelian, Alexei V. Filippenko, Ryan Chornock, Nozomu Tominaga, Hideyuki Umeda, Ken'ichi Nomoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Following recent abundance measurements of Mg, Al, Ca, Fe, and Ni in the black hole X-ray binary XTE J1118+480 using medium-resolution Keck II ESI spectra of the secondary star, we perform a detailed abundance analysis including the abundances of Si and Ti. These element abundances, which are higher than solar, indicate that the black hole in this system formed in a supernova event, whose nucleosynthetic products could pollute the atmosphere of the secondary star, providing clues to the possible formation region of the system, either Galactic halo, thick disk, or thin disk. We explore a grid of explosion models with different He core masses, metallicities, and geometries. Metal-poor models associated with a formation scenario in the Galactic halo provide unacceptable fits to the observed abundances, allowing us to reject a halo origin for this X-ray binary. The thick-disk scenario produces better fits, although they require substantial fallback and very efficient mixing processes between the inner layers of the explosion and the ejecta, making an origin in the thick disk quite unlikely. The best agreement between model predictions and the observed abundances is obtained for metal-rich progenitor models. In particular, non-spherically symmetric models are able to explain, without strong assumptions of extensive fallback and mixing, the observed abundances. Moreover, asymmetric mass ejection in a supernova explosion could account for the required impulse necessary to launch the system from its formation region in the Galactic thin disk to its current halo orbit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)732-745
Number of pages14
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 20 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Black hole physics
  • Stars: abundances
  • Stars: evolution
  • Supernovae: general
  • X-rays: binaries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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