First meeting of new ISSI burst team
In December we kicked off a second international team with a meeting at Bern's International Space Science Institute. This time the theme is Thermonuclear Bursts: Probing Neutron Stars and their Accretion Environments, and we focus on photospheric radius-expansion (PRE) thermonuclear bursts, and burst oscillations.
PRE bursts are so bright that the pressure from the outgoing radiation field exceeds even the ultrastrong gravitational field of the neutron star on which they occur. These events are key diagnostics for measuring neutron star properties, but much of the observed behaviour is not well understood. The same can be said for burst oscillations, which occur during brief intervals in some bursts, and allow us to measure the neutron-star spin. Despite more than a decade of study, there is yet no consensus on the origin of the oscillations.
Bern itself was in full Christmas mode, with the Weihnachtsmarkt in full swing, and the streets flowed with gluwein. Michael Zamfir and I managed a day skiing up at Grindlewald, in the shadow of the magnificent Eiger.