INTEGRAL monitoring of unusually long X-ray bursts

Jérôme Chenevez (Author), Maurizio Falanga (Author), Andrew Cumming (Author), Erik Kuulkers (Author), Søren Kristian Brandt (Author), Niels Lund (Author)

    Research output: Non-textual formSound/Visual production (digital)Research


    Thermonuclear bursts on the surface of accreting neutron stars in low mass X-ray binaries have been studied for many years and have in a few cases confirmed theoretical models of nuclear ignition and burning mechanisms. The large majority of X-ray bursts last less than 100s. A good number of the known X-ray bursters are frequently observed by INTEGRAL, in particular in the frame of the Key Programmes. Taking advantage of the INTEGRAL instrumentation, an international collaboration led by the JEM-X team at the Danish National Space Institute has been monitoring the occurrence of uncommon burst events lasting more than a few minutes. Of special interest are exceptional X-ray bursts which duration about a few tens of minutes is intermediate between usual short bursts and hour long superbursts. The processes driving such long bursts are not yet fully understood: depending on the composition of the accreted material, these bursts may be explained by either the unstable burning of a large pile of mixed hydrogen and helium, or the ignition of a thick pure helium layer. Long duration bursts are particularly expected at very low accretion rates and make possible to study the transition from a hydrogen-rich bursting regime to a pure helium regime. Moreover, a handful of long bursts have shown, before the extended decay phase, an initial spike similar to a normal short X-ray burst. Such twofold bursts might be a sort of link between short and super-bursts, where the premature ignition of a carbon layer could be triggered by the helium flash. Half of the 15 intermediate long bursts known to date have been observed by INTEGRAL, and the mechanisms up to high energies of these unusual events have been investigated. Observation results will be presented that lead to an advanced description of the relationship between bursting regimes and the accretion states of the system, as described by the current burst theory.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2008
    Publication statusPublished - 2008
    EventThe 7th INTEGRAL Workshop: An INTEGRAL view of compact objects - Copenhagen, Denmark
    Duration: 8 Sept 200811 Sept 2008
    Conference number: 7


    ConferenceThe 7th INTEGRAL Workshop


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