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Title: DISCOVERY OF A NEUTRON STAR OSCILLATION MODE DURING A SUPERBURST

Neutron stars are among the most compact objects in the universe and provide a unique laboratory for the study of cold ultra-dense matter. While asteroseismology can provide a powerful probe of the interiors of stars, for example, helioseismology has provided unprecedented insights about the interior of the Sun, comparable capabilities for neutron star seismology have not yet been achieved. Here, we report the discovery of a coherent X-ray modulation from the neutron star 4U 1636–536 during the 2001 February 22 thermonuclear superburst seen with NASA's Rossi X-Ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) that is very likely produced by a global oscillation mode. The observed frequency is 835.6440 ± 0.0002 Hz (1.43546 times the stellar spin frequency of 582.14323 Hz) and the modulation is well described by a sinusoid (A + Bsin (φ – φ{sub 0})) with a fractional half-amplitude of B/A = 0.19 ± 0.04% (4-15 keV). The observed frequency is consistent with the expected inertial frame frequency of a rotationally modified surface g-mode, an interfacial mode in the ocean-crust interface, or perhaps an r-mode. Observing an inertial frame frequency—as opposed to a co-rotating frame frequency—appears consistent with the superburst's thermal emission arising from the entire surface of the neutron star, and the mode maymore » become visible by perturbing the local surface temperature. We briefly discuss the implications of the mode detection for the neutron star's projected velocity and mass. Our results provide further strong evidence that global oscillation modes can produce observable modulations in the X-ray flux from neutron stars.« less
Authors:
 [1] ;  [2]
  1. Astrophysics Science Division and Joint Space-Science Institute, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771 (United States)
  2. Department of Physics and Joint Space-Science Institute, University of Maryland College Park, MD 20742 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22364956
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal Letters; Journal Volume: 793; Journal Issue: 2; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; COMPARATIVE EVALUATIONS; DATA ANALYSIS; INTERFACES; KEV RANGE; MASS; MODULATION; NASA; NEUTRON STARS; NEUTRONS; OSCILLATION MODES; OSCILLATIONS; PROBES; SEISMOLOGY; SUN; UNIVERSE; X RADIATION