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kHz Quasi Periodic Oscillations in Low Mass X-ray Binaries as Probes of General Relativity in the Strong Field Regime

ABSTRACT

We consider the interpretation of a pair of kHz Quasi Periodic Oscillations (QPOs) in the Fourier spectra of two Low Mass X-Ray Binaries, Sco X-1 and 4U1608-52, hosting an old accreting neutron star. The observed frequency difference of these QPOs decreaseas as their frequency increases, contrary to simple beat frequency models, which predict a constant frequency difference. We show that the behaviour of these QPOs is instead well matched in terms of the fundamental frequencies (in the radial and azimuthal directions) for test particle motion in the gravitational field of the neutron star, for reasonable star masses, and nearly independent of the star spin. The radial frequency must be much smaller than the azimuthal one, testifying that kHz QPOs are produced close to the innermost stable orbit. These results are not reproduced through the post--Newtonian (PN) approximation of General Relativity (GR). kHz QPOs from X-ray binaries likely provide an accurate laboratory for strong field GR.