Robust Inference of Neutron-star Parameters from Thermonuclear Burst Observations

Duncan K. Galloway, Zac Johnston, Adelle Goodwin, Chong Chong He

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Thermonuclear (type-I) bursts arise from unstable ignition of accumulated fuel on the surface of neutron stars in low-mass X-ray binaries. Measurements of burst properties in principle enable observers to infer the properties of the host neutron star and mass donors, but a number of confounding astrophysical effects contribute to systematic uncertainties. Here we describe some commonly used approaches for determining system parameters, including composition of the burst fuel, and introduce a new suite of software tools, concord, intended to fully account for astrophysical uncertainties. The comparison of observed burst properties with the predictions of numerical models is a complementary method of constraining host properties, and the tools presented here are intended to make comprehensive model-observation comparisons straightforward. When combined with the extensive samples of burst observations accumulated by X-ray observatories, these software tools will provide a step change in the amount of information that can be inferred about typical burst sources.

Original languageEnglish
Article number30
Number of pages21
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022

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