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Mon Sep 16, 2019

Fingerprinting X-ray bursters

The first accretion-powered millisecond pulsar ever found, SAX 1808.4—3658 is a remarkable object, also showing thermonuclear bursts during it's infrequent outbursts. Over several years PhD student Adelle Goodwin has been trying to match the bursts observed during it's 2002 outburst with the predictions of a numerical model. This exercise can be thought of as searching exhaustively for a set of parameters which (in the model) reproduce the observed properties of the bursts. Now that we have an improved formula for determining the energy of these bursts, she built a Markov-chain Monte-Carlo (MCMC) code to constrain system parameters including neutron star mass and radius for the source. Her paper describing the study, and it's results, has now been published by MNRAS

Read the paper (MNRAS 490, 2228, 2019)

Labels: 2019, /postgrads

Mon Jul 01, 2019

Bursting the Bubble workshop

In June I attended the Lorentz Center workshop Bursting the Bubble: Connecting Thermonuclear Burst Research to a Wider Community in Leiden, NL. This meeting is the continuation of a series of meetings on the same topic, most recently with the BERN'18 meeting, but originally a series of ISSI international teams since about 2010. This year's meeting featured a selected group of attendees with the goal of bringing our burst research to a wider community, most notably those observers interested in novae, the WD analogues of thermonuclear bursts. A highlight for me was Bill Wolf's tutorial session on simulating bursts and novae with MESA. The centre proved terrific facilities and support for the great presentations and discussions we had over the week. As with previous meetings, JINA-CEE was a generous sponsor of the event, with support specifically aimed at enabling attendance by early-career scientists. Thanks also go to the dedicated team of organisers led by the irrepressible Anna Watts!

Labels: 2019, /meetings

Tue Apr 16, 2019

A brand-new bursting X-ray binary

While examining RXTE data for the MINBAR project two summers ago, Jean in 't Zand unexpectedly discovered a brand-new bursting source, XMMU J181227.8—181234. Now PhD student Adelle Goodwin's paper on the source has been accepted by MNRAS. The source is quite unusual; distant and hence low-intensity, but apparently a high accretion rate leading to frequent (but weak) bursts. The shape of the bursts strongly implies H-poor accreted composition, but we also found evidence for short recurrence-time bursts, which previously have been seen only in H-rich accretors. Hopefully the source will go into outburst again sometime soon and we can gather more information on it's properties.

Read the paper (MNRAS 486, 4149, 2019)

Labels: 2019, /postgrads

Fri Apr 05, 2019

Australia-China Workshop on Astrophysics

The 5th Australia-China Workshop on Astrophysics was held in Healesville, VIC at RACV's Country Club resort this April. The meeting continues a series of events intended to foster cooperation between the two countries, and as my first attendance, I was very impressed with the level of cooperation alredy. A host of prominent Chinese and Australian astronomers were in attendance, and presentations were also made by students undertaking projects enabled made possible via cooperative programs. I gave a talk on X-ray binaries and the possibilities for joint observational programs, particularly with Insight-HXMT and the proposed eXTP. Exciting times ahead for cross-country cooperation!

Labels: 2019, /meetings

Mon Jan 21, 2019

Cavecchi visit

Longtime collaborator and friend of bursts Yuri Cavecchi visited Monash this month, supported by the MoCA Distinguished Visitor Program. Yuri and I have been working for a few years now on the global properties of thermonuclear bursts, particuarly the ignition conditions and how they respond to changes in accretion rate, motivated by observations with MINBAR. Yuri had already come up with a possible explanation for the drop in burst rates that is observed as accretion rates increase in some sources; during the visit we plan to work on matching the models in more detail to the observations. Stay tuned for exciting results coming soon!

Labels: 2019, /visits