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X-ray variability of stellar and supermassive black holes

Simon Vaughan, University of Leicester

The fluctuating brightness of cosmic X-ray sources, particularly accreting black holes and neutron star systems, has enabled enormous progress in understanding the physics of turbulent accretion flows, the behaviour of matter on the surfaces of neutron stars and improving the evidence for black holes. Most of this progress has been made by analysing and modelling time series data in terms of the frequency domain (auto- and cross-spectra). In the first half of this talk we will briefly review this progress, and in particular, discuss the similarities between the observational characteristics of stellar and supermassive black hole systems.

Recently, attempts have been made to make use of other aspects of the data, by testing for non-linearity, non-Gaussianity, time asymmetry and by examination of higher order Fourier spectra. These projects, which have been made possible by the vast increase in data quality and quantity over the past decade, are the subject of this presentation.second half of this talk.