What can NuSTAR do for X-ray bursts?

Publication: Research - peer-reviewPoster – Annual report year: 2012

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Unstable thermonuclear burning on the surface of accreting neutron stars is commonly observed as type I X-ray bursts. The flux released during some strong bursts can temporarily exceed the Eddington limit, driving the neutron star photosphere to such large radii that heavy-element ashes of nuclear burning are ejected in the burst expansion wind. We have investigated the possibility of observing with NuSTAR some X-ray bursters selected for their high burst rate and trend to exhibit so-called superexpansion bursts. Our main ambition is to detect the photoionization edges associated with the ejected nuclear ashes, and identify the corresponding heavy elements. A positive identification of such edges would probe the nuclear burning processes, and provide a measure of the expansion wind velocity as well as the gravitational redshift from the neutron star. Moreover, we expect that the high sensitivity of NuSTAR in hard X-rays will make it possible to study the behavior of the accretion emission during the bursts, which is an important parameter to constrain the properties of the X-ray burst emission and thermonuclear burning.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2012
Number of pages1
StatePublished

Conference

ConferenceAnnual Danish Astronomy Meeting
CountrySweden
CityHven
Period30/05/1231/05/12
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