The Balance of Power: Accretion and Feedback in Stellar Mass Black Holes

  • Rob FenderEmail author
  • Teo Muñoz-Darias
Part of the Lecture Notes in Physics book series (LNP, volume 905)


In this review we discuss the population of stellar-mass black holes in our galaxy and beyond, which are the extreme endpoints of massive star evolution. In particular we focus on how we can attempt to balance the available accretion energy with feedback to the environment via radiation, jets and winds, considering also possible contributions to the energy balance from black hole spin and advection. We review quantitatively the methods which are used to estimate these quantities, regardless of the details of the astrophysics close to the black hole. Once these methods have been outlined, we work through an outburst of a black hole X-ray binary system, estimating the flow of mass and energy through the different accretion rates and states. While we focus on feedback from stellar mass black holes in X-ray binary systems, we also consider the applicability of what we have learned to supermassive black holes in active galactic nuclei. As an important control sample we also review the coupling between accretion and feedback in neutron stars, and show that it is very similar to that observed in black holes, which strongly constrains how much of the astrophysics of feedback can be unique to black holes.


Black Hole Neutron Star Radio Emission Accretion Rate Hard State 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



RF would like to acknowledge an uncountable number of useful conversations with collaborators, friends and occasional rivals. He would also like to acknowledge the hospitality provided in Como during the school which resulted in this book, and the support of the editor, Francesco Haardt. Mickaël Coriat kindly supplied the functional fit to the outburst of GX 339-4. TMD would like to acknowledge the support and research opportunities provided by the EU programs Black Hole Universe (Initial Training Network 215212) and Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship 2011-301355, during his research positions in INAF-Brera, Southampton and Oxford, where some of the ideas discussed here were developed. He would like also to acknowledge all the collaborators, from Ph.D. students to heads of group, involved in this intense period of research work. This work was partially supported by ERC grant 267697 “4 PI SKY: Extreme Astrophysics with Revolutionary Radio Telescopes”.


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Astrophysics, Department of PhysicsUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.Departamento de Astrofísica, Instituto de Astrofísica de CanariasUniversidad de La LagunaSan Cristóbal de La LagunaSpain

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