Browsing UA Faculty Research by Subjects
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MODEL ATMOSPHERES FOR X-RAY BURSTING NEUTRON STARSThe hydrogen and helium accreted by X-ray bursting neutron stars is periodically consumed in runaway thermonuclear reactions that cause the entire surface to glow brightly in X-rays for a few seconds. With models of the emission, the mass and radius of the neutron star can be inferred from the observations. By simultaneously probing neutron star masses and radii, X-ray bursts (XRBs) are one of the strongest diagnostics of the nature of matter at extremely high densities. Accurate determinations of these parameters are difficult, however, due to the highly non-ideal nature of the atmospheres where XRBs occur. Observations from X-ray telescopes such as RXTE and NuStar can potentially place strong constraints on nuclear matter once uncertainties in atmosphere models have been reduced. Here we discuss current progress on modeling atmospheres of X-ray bursting neutron stars and some of the challenges still to be overcome.
SYSTEMATIC UNCERTAINTIES IN THE SPECTROSCOPIC MEASUREMENTS OF NEUTRON STAR MASSES AND RADII FROM THERMONUCLEAR X-RAY BURSTS. III. ABSOLUTE FLUX CALIBRATIONMany techniques for measuring neutron star radii rely on absolute flux measurements in the X-rays. As a result, one of the fundamental uncertainties in these spectroscopic measurements arises from the absolute flux calibrations of the detectors being used. Using the stable X-ray burster, GS 1826-238, and its simultaneous observations by Chandra HETG/ACIS-S and RXTE/PCA as well as by XMM-Newton EPIC-pn and RXTE/PCA, we quantify the degree of uncertainty in the flux calibration by assessing the differences between the measured fluxes during bursts. We find that the RXTE/PCA and the Chandra gratings measurements agree with each other within their formal uncertainties, increasing our confidence in these flux measurements. In contrast, XMM-Newton EPIC-pn measures 14.0 +/- 0.3% less flux than the RXTE/PCA. This is consistent with the previously reported discrepancy with the flux measurements of EPIC-pn, compared with EPIC MOS1, MOS2, and ACIS-S detectors. We also show that any intrinsic time-dependent systematic uncertainty that may exist in the calibration of the satellites has already been implicity taken into account in the neutron star radius measurements.