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Proceedings Paper

Accretion dynamics and polarized x-ray emission of magnetized neutron stars
Author(s): Jonathan Arons
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Paper Abstract

The basic ideas of accretion onto magnetized neutron stars are outlined. These are applied to a simple model of the structure of the plasma mound sitting at the magnetic poles of such a star, in which upward diffusion of photons is balanced by their downward advection. This steady flow model of the plasma's dynamical state is used to compute the emission of polarized X-raysfrom the optically thick, birefringent medium. The linear polarization of the continuum radiation emerging from the quasi-static mound is found to be as much as 40 percent at some rotation phases, but is insensitive to the geometry of the accretion flow. The role of the accretion shock, whose detailed polarimetric and spectral characteristics have yet to be calculated, is emphasized as the final determinant of the properties of the emerging X-rays. Some results describing the fully time dependent dynamics of the flow are also presented. In particular, steady flow onto a neutron star is shown to exhibit formation of 'photon bubbles', regions of greatly reduced plasma density filled with radiation which form and rise on millisecond time scale. The possible role of these complex structures in the flow for the formation of the emergent spectrum is briefly outlined.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 November 1991
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 1548, Production and Analysis of Polarized X Rays, (1 November 1991); doi: 10.1117/12.50567
Show Author Affiliations
Jonathan Arons, Univ. of California/Berkeley and Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 1548:
Production and Analysis of Polarized X Rays
D. Peter Siddons, Editor(s)

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