Univ Amsterdam, Astron Inst Anton Pannekoek, NL-1098 SJ Amsterdam, Netherlands
; Ctr High Energy Astrophys, NL-1098 SJ Amsterdam, Netherlands
; Chinese Acad Sci, Inst High Energy Phys, Lab Cosm Ray & High Energy Astrophys, Beijing 100039, Peoples R China
We analyzed Rossi X-Ray Timing Explorer data of the low-mass X-ray binary and atoll source 4U 1608-52 obtained on 1996 March 3 in which the source simultaneously showed a strong single kilohertz quasi-periodic oscillation (kHz QPO) around 840 Hz and a 7.5 mHz QPO detected at energies below 5 keV. We find that the frequency of the kHz QPO is approximately anticorrelated with the 2-5 keV X-ray count rate associated with the mHz QPO. The average kHz QPO frequency varies by about 0.6 Hz (0.07%) during a mHz QPO cycle over which the average 2-5 keV count rate varies by about 60 counts s(-1) (4%). This is the opposite of the frequency-count rate correlation observed in the same data on longer timescales and, hence, constitutes the first example of a sign reversal in the frequency-flux correlation related to the origin of the flux. Such a sign reversal is predicted by the radiative disk truncation model for the case where the flux variations originate on the neutron star but are not due to disk accretion rate fluctuations. The results support the nuclear burning interpretation of the mHz QPO and the interpretation of the kHz QPO frequency as an indicator of the orbital frequency at the inner edge of the accretion disk. The varying radiative stresses exerted on the inner disk by the flux due to the quasi-periodic nuclear burning lead to changes in the inner disk radius and, hence, to the observed anticorrelation between kHz QPO frequency and X-ray count rate. We found a time lag of about 10 s of the X-ray count rate relative to the kHz QPO frequency in terms of the anticorrelation between these two quantities, which could be caused by the propagation of the nuclear burning front on the neutron star away from the equatorial region.