Constraints on Neutron Star Interior Physics from Long Type I X-ray Bursts

Andrew Cumming

McGill University


Long term monitoring of accreting neutron stars has revealed a new sample of long duration X-ray bursts. They are thought to occur when a thick layer of fuel undergoes a thermonuclear runaway, either carbon in the case of "superbursts", or helium for other "intermediate duration" bursts. I will present a new comparison of theory and observations of long X-ray bursts, including models of both lightcurves and ignition conditions. The observed properties of helium and carbon bursts are reproduced only if the neutrino emission from the core and crust of the star is inefficient. The ignition conditions for these thick layers are extremely sensitive to the thermal profile of the neutron star interior, and provide a new way to probe neutron star cooling, complementary to observations of isolated neutron stars and accreting neutron stars in quiescence.


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