Spectral analysis of X-ray binaries
Author(s)Fridriksson, Joel Karl
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Physics.
Walter H. G. Lewin and Jeroen Homan.
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In this thesis, I present work from three separate research projects associated with observations of X-ray binaries. Two of those revolve around spectral characteristics of neutron star low-mass X-ray binaries (NS-LMXBs), with a particular source, XTE J1701-462, playing a central role. First, I construct and study color-color and hardness-intensity diagrams (CDs and HIDs) for a large sample of NS-LMXBs using Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) data spanning ~15 years. I study in particular detail three sources whose complicated CDs/HIDs are strongly affected by secular motion -- Cyg X-2, Cir X-1, and GX 13+1 -- and show that Cyg X-2 and Cir X-1 display CD/HID evolution with strong similarities to the transient Z source XTE J1701-462, which was previously shown to have evolved through all subclasses of NS-LMXBs as a result of changes in mass accretion rate. I build on the results for XTE J1701-462, Cyg X-2, and Cir X-1 and rank all the sources in the sample based only on their CD/HID morphology. I speculate that this represents a rough ranking in terms of the relative ranges in mass accretion rate experienced by the sources. Next, I use data from RXTE, Swift, Chandra, and XMM-Newton to study the transition to quiescence and the first ~1200 days of the quiescent phase of XTE J1701-462 following the end of its extraordinarily luminous 19 month outburst in 2006-2007. I find that the crust of the neutron star cooled rapidly during the first ~200 days of quiescence, after having been heated out of thermal equilibrium with the core during the outburst; the source has subsequently shown slower cooling along with sporadic low-level accretion activity. I discuss the implications of the observed cooling behavior and low-level accretion, the former of which yields information on the internal properties of the neutron star. Finally, I use multiple Chandra observations to study the X-ray source populations in the late-type galaxies NGC 6946 and NGC 4485/4490. A particular emphasis is placed on investigating the long-term variability of the sources, several of which are ultraluminous. I present detailed source catalogs and characterize the populations -- which consist primarily of X-ray binaries -- using X-ray luminosity functions and CDs.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Physics, 2011.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Physics.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology