PRE 61 (2) 1 February 2000, Preprint
We analyze the variability in the X-ray lightcurves of the black hole candidate Cygnus X-1 by linear and nonlinear time series analysis methods. While a linear model describes the over-all second order properties of the observed data well, surrogate data analysis reveals a significant deviation from linearity. We discuss the relation between shot noise models usually applied to analyze these data and linear stochastic autoregressive models. We debate statistical and interpretational issues of surrogate data testing for the present context. Finally, we suggest a combination of tools from linear and nonlinear time series analysis methods as a procedure to test the predictions of astrophysical models on observed data.