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Title: X-ray emission from low mass binary systems
Author: Breedon, Lorraine Maria
ISNI:       0000 0001 3478 290X
Awarding Body: University of Leicester
Current Institution: University of Leicester
Date of Award: 1988
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X-ray Emission from Low Mass Binary Systems X-ray time-series and spectra of two LMXRBs are presented. The data are from the the well-known X-ray burster MXB1636-536 and the dipping source 4U1624-49. In the case of MXB1636-536, a simultaneous optical observation is also presented. The 2-20 keV persistent X-ray emission from MXB1636-536 is found to show both positive and negative hardness-flux correlations and to vary by a factor of ∼ 2 on timescales of hours. The persistent spectrum is best described by a power law with high energy cut-off, indicative that Comptonization dominates the spectral formation in the inner accretion disk. The temperature, optical depth and Compton y parameter of the Comptonizing plasma are derived; the Compton y parameter shows that the spectrum is consistent with unsaturated Comptonization. The negative hardness-flux correlation is explained in terms of the Compton cooling of a hot neutron star corona as a result of an increase in accretion rate. It is notable that a negative hardness-flux correlation and a power law spectrum is in direct conflict with previous observations of this source. Thirteen X-ray bursts, exhibiting a wide variety of profile, were also observed from MXB1636-536. The peak burst flux and burst fluence varied by a factor of 6 and 5 respectively. The burst sample may be divided into two distinct classes: those with fast rise and high peak intensity (strong) and those with slow rise and low peak intensity (weak). Moreover, the strong bursts are 'super-Eddington' and one of the weak bursts is unusual in that it is double-peaked in both the X-ray and bolometric burst profiles. The observed burst properties are discussed within the framework of the current thermonuclear flash models and other physical scenarios. One of the bursts, observed simultaneously in both the X-ray and optical wavebands, is used to determine the possible locality of the reprocessing region in the accretion disk. 4U1624-49 reveals a pattern of dips in the 1-10 keV X-ray light-curve which repeat with a period of ~21 hours. This is almost certainly the binary period of the system, making it one of the longest binary periods amongst LMXRBs. The ∼25% residual flux can be associated with a physically extended emission component whereas the dips are associated with the intermittent obscuration of a compact component by material in the line-of-sight. The spectral changes occuring within the dips are complex and indicate energy-independent reductions in flux and substantial increases in absorption. The dips cannot be explained by a bulge at the outer disk edge (at the point of impact with the incoming stream) obscuring the central X-ray source. Assuming the primary of 4U1624-49 is a 1.4M? neutron star, the companion is likely to be an evolved star with a mass < 3M? and radius < 2.75R?. The orbital inclination is found to be within the range predicted by the FKL model for 'pure dippers' i.e. 60° < I < 75°.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Galactic X-ray sources