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Title: Non-Quiescent X-ray Emission from Neutron Stars and Black Holes

X-ray astronomy began with the detection of the persistent source Scorpius X-1. Shortly afterwards, sources were detected that were variable. Centaurus X-2, was determined to be an X-ray transient, having a quiescent state, and a state that was much brighter. As X-ray astronomy progressed, classifications of transient sources developed. One class of sources, believed to be neutron stars, undergo extreme luminosity transitions lasting a few seconds. These outbursts are believed to be thermonuclear explosions occurring on the surface of neutron stars (type I X-ray bursts). Other sources undergo luminosity changes that cannot be explained by thermonuclear burning and last for days to months. These sources are soft X-ray transients (SXTs) and are believed to be the result of instabilities in the accretion of matter onto either a neutron star or black hole. Type I X-ray bursts provide a tool for probing the surfaces of neutron stars. Requiring a surface for the burning has led authors to use the presence of X-ray bursts to rule out the existence of a black hole (where an event horizon exists not a surface) for systems which exhibit type I X-ray bursts. Distinguishing between neutron stars and black holes has been a problem for decades.more » Narayan and Heyl have developed a theoretical framework to convert suitable upper limits on type I X-ray bursts from accreting black hole candidates (BHCs) into evidence for an event horizon. We survey 2101.2 ks of data from the USA X-ray timing experiment and 5142 ks of data from the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) experiment to obtain the first formal constraint of this type. 1122 ks of neutron star data yield a population averaged mean burst rate of 1.7 {+-} 0.4 x 10{sup -5} bursts s{sup -1}, while 6081 ks of BHC data yield a 95% confidence level upper limit of 4.9 x 10{sup -7} bursts s{sup -1}. Applying the framework of Narayan and Heyl we calculate regions of luminosity where the neutron stars are expected to burst and the BHCs would be expected to burst if they had a similar surface. In this luminosity region 464 ks of neutron star data yield an averaged mean burst rate of 4.1 {+-} 0.9 x 10{sup -5} bursts s{sup -1}, and 1512 ks of BHC data yield a 95% confidence level upper limit of 2.0 x 10{sup -6} bursts s{sup -1} and a strong limit that BHCs do not burst with a rate similar to the rate of neutron stars in these regions. This gives evidence that BHCs do not have surfaces. In addition to studying type I X-ray bursts, we analyzed the SXT behavior. In particular, 4U 1630-47, was analyzed throughout its 1999 outburst. This source is one of the oldest known SXTs. This source is assumed to be a BHC in a low-mass X-ray binary system. Despite the length of time devoted to studying this source, there is still little known about it. We report the results of timing and spectral analysis on the 1999 outburst, and compare these results to other outbursts of 4U 1630-47. We found this source progressed from a low-hard state to a high-soft state and then rapidly transitioned back into the low-hard state before returning to quiescence. Timing analysis detected a low frequency quasi-periodic oscillation (LFQPO) during the initial rise of the outburst, which disappeared and did not return. The variability in the X-ray flux in the 0.1-2000 Hz frequency range is low during the high state, but increases as the source progresses into the low-hard state. The next generation Gamma Ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST), will measure astrophysical phenomena in the 20 MeV--a few TeV energy range. We describe preliminary design and testing of GLAST. The detector is based on a silicon tracker with similar design characteristics of vertex detectors used in high-energy physics experiments at accelerator based facilities. A beam test engineering model was designed, constructed, and tested at SLAC in 1999-2000. We describe this test, and discuss how the results from this test can improve and demonstrate the viability of the GLAST technology.« less
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
TRN: US0304584
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Resource Relation:
Other Information: This is a Ph.D. thesis submitted to Stanford Univ., CA (US); PBD: 18 Aug 2003
Research Org:
Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, Menlo Park, CA (US)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (US)
Country of Publication:
United States