Characterizing intermittency of 4-Hz quasi-periodic oscillation in XTE J1550-564 using Hilbert-Huang transform

Yi Hao Su, Yi Chou, Chin Ping Hu, Ting Chang Yang

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3 Scopus citations


We present time-frequency analysis results based on the Hilbert-Huang transform (HHT) for the evolution of a 4-Hz low-frequency quasi-periodic oscillation (LFQPO) around the black hole X-ray binary XTE J1550-564. The origin of LFQPOs is still debated. To understand the cause of the peak broadening, we utilized a recently developed time-frequency analysis, HHT, for tracking the evolution of the 4-Hz LFQPO from XTE J1550-564. By adaptively decomposing the ∼4-Hz oscillatory component from the light curve and acquiring its instantaneous frequency, the Hilbert spectrum illustrates that the LFQPO is composed of a series of intermittent oscillations appearing occasionally between 3 and 5 Hz. We further characterized this intermittency by computing the confidence limits of the instantaneous amplitudes of the intermittent oscillations, and constructed both the distributions of the QPO's high- and low-amplitude durations, which are the time intervals with and without significant ∼4-Hz oscillations, respectively. The mean high-amplitude duration is 1.45 s and 90% of the oscillation segments have lifetimes below 3.1 s. The mean low-amplitude duration is 0.42 s and 90% of these segments are shorter than 0.73 s. In addition, these intermittent oscillations exhibit a correlation between the oscillation's rms amplitude and mean count rate. This correlation could be analogous to the linear rms-flux relation found in the 4-Hz LFQPO through Fourier analysis. We conclude that the LFQPO peak in the power spectrum is broadened owing to intermittent oscillations with varying frequencies, which could be explained by using the Lense-Thirring precession model.

Original languageEnglish
Article number74
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 10 Dec 2015


  • X-rays: binaries
  • X-rays: individual (XTE J1550564)
  • accretion, accretion disks
  • black hole physics
  • methods: data analysis


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