The remarkable RXTE observations of the Rapid Burster
The Rapid Burster is a neutron-star binary that exhibits singular behaviour; extremely frequent "type-II" X-ray bursts, which cannot be thermonuclear in origin. The standard explanation of these bursts is that they arise from episodic accretion onto the neutron star, and it is this accretion which also fuels the (mostly) independent thermonuclear (type-I) bursts. The Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer made many observations (totalling 2.4 Ms, or almost a month of continuous observing!) of the source over multiple transient outbursts throughout the mission lifetime, building up an impressive database of burst behaviour. SRON PhD student Tullio Bagnoli, having already made a detailed study of the thermonuclear events in this source, has now completed a study of the type-II events, examining the demographics of the almost 8500 bursts detected by RXTE. The singular behaviour of this source may be explained by a special combination of magnetic field strength, stellar spin period and alignment between the magnetic field and the spin axis. Tullio's paper was just accepted by MNRAS.
Read the paper arXiv:1502.03941