Volume 608, December 2017
|Number of page(s)||15|
|Section||Stellar structure and evolution|
|Published online||01 December 2017|
Neutron star mass and radius measurements from atmospheric model fits to X-ray burst cooling tail spectra
1 Tuorla Observatory, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Turku, Väisäläntie 20, 21500 Piikkiö, Finland
2 Nordita, KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Stockholm University, Roslagstullsbacken 23, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden
3 Department of Astronomy and Joint Space-Science Institute, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742-2421, USA
4 Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee 37996, USA
5 Finnish Centre for Astronomy with ESO (FINCA), University of Turku, Väisäläntie 20, 21500 Piikkiö, Finland
6 European Space Astronomy Centre (ESA/ESAC), Science Operations Department, 28691 Villanueva de la Cañada, Madrid, Spain
7 Institut für Astronomie und Astrophysik, Kepler Centre for Astro and Particle Physics, Universität Tübingen, Sand 1, 72076 Tübingen, Germany
8 Astronomy Department, Kazan (Volga region) Federal University, Kremlyovskaya str. 18, 420008 Kazan, Russia
9 Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA
Received: 2 May 2017
Accepted: 26 September 2017
Observations of thermonuclear X-ray bursts from accreting neutron stars (NSs) in low-mass X-ray binary systems can be used to constrain NS masses and radii. Most previous work of this type has set these constraints using Planck function fits as a proxy: the models and the data are both fit with diluted blackbody functions to yield normalizations and temperatures that are then compared with each other. For the first time, we here fit atmosphere models of X-ray bursting NSs directly to the observed spectra. We present a hierarchical Bayesian fitting framework that uses current X-ray bursting NS atmosphere models with realistic opacities and relativistic exact Compton scattering kernels as a model for the surface emission. We test our approach against synthetic data and find that for data that are well described by our model, we can obtain robust radius, mass, distance, and composition measurements. We then apply our technique to Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer observations of five hard-state X-ray bursts from 4U 1702−429. Our joint fit to all five bursts shows that the theoretical atmosphere models describe the data well, but there are still some unmodeled features in the spectrum corresponding to a relative error of 1–5% of the energy flux. After marginalizing over this intrinsic scatter, we find that at 68% credibility, the circumferential radius of the NS in 4U 1702−429 is R = 12.4±0.4 km, the gravitational mass is M = 1.9±0.3 M⊙, the distance is 5.1 < D/ kpc < 6.2, and the hydrogen mass fraction is X < 0.09.
Key words: dense matter / stars: neutron / X-rays: binaries / X-rays: bursts
© ESO, 2017
Current usage metrics show cumulative count of Article Views (full-text article views including HTML views, PDF and ePub downloads, according to the available data) and Abstracts Views on Vision4Press platform.
Data correspond to usage on the plateform after 2015. The current usage metrics is available 48-96 hours after online publication and is updated daily on week days.
Initial download of the metrics may take a while.