Systematic variation in the apparent burning area of thermonuclear bursts and its implication for neutron star radius measurement

Sudip Bhattacharyya, M Coleman Miller, Duncan Galloway

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18 Citations (Scopus)


Precision measurements of neutron star radii can provide a powerful probe of the properties of cold matter beyond nuclear density. Beginning in the late 1970s, it was proposed that the radius could be obtained from the apparent or inferred emitting area during the decay portions of thermonuclear (type I) X-ray bursts. However, this apparent area is generally not constant, preventing a reliable measurement of the source radius. Here, we report for the first time a correlation between the variation of the inferred area and the burst properties, measured in a sample of almost 900 bursts from 43 sources. We found that the rate of change of the inferred area during decay is anticorrelated with the burst decay duration. A Spearman rank correlation test shows that this relation is significant at the
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2 - 6
Number of pages5
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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