Institution(s): 1. Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 2. University of Geneva
Galactic field low-mass X-ray binaries (LMXBs), like the ones for which black hole (BH) spin measurements are available, are believed to form in situ via the evolution of isolated binaries. In the standard formation channel, these systems survived a common envelope phase, after which the remaining helium core of the primary star and the subsequently formed BH are not expected to be highly spinning. However, the measured spins of BHs in LMXBs cover the whole range of spin parameters from a*~0 to a*1. In this talk I propose that the BH spin in LMXBs is acquired through accretion onto the BH during its long stable accretion phase. In order to test this hypothesis, I calculated extensive grids of binary evolutionary sequences in which a BH accretes matter from a close companion. For each evolutionary sequence, I examined whether, at any point in time, the calculated binary properties are in agreement with their observationally inferred counterparts of observed Galactic LMXBs with BH spin measurements. Mass-transfer sequences that simultaneously satisfy all observational constraints represent possible progenitors of the considered LMXBs and thus give estimates of the amount of matter that the BH has accreted since the onset of Roche-Lobe overflow. I find that in all Galactic LMXBs with measured BH spin, the origin of the spin can be accounted by the accreted matter. Furthermore, based on this hypothesis, I derive limits on the maximum spin that a BH can have depending on the orbital period of the binary it resides in, and give predictions on the maximum possible BH spin of Galactic LMXBs where a BH spin measurement is not yet available. Finally I will discuss the implication that our findings have on the birth black hole mass distribution.