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I. Ash Injection and Exposure During Radius Expansion Type I X-Ray Bursts. II. Stellar Dynamics at the Galactic Center. III. Weak Gravitational Lensing by Dark Matter Concentrations


Weinberg, Nevin Nachum (2005) I. Ash Injection and Exposure During Radius Expansion Type I X-Ray Bursts. II. Stellar Dynamics at the Galactic Center. III. Weak Gravitational Lensing by Dark Matter Concentrations. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/V8PX-AE66.


The studies presented herein are on three distinct topics in astrophysics:

I. We solve for the evolution of the vertical extent of the convective region of a neutron star atmosphere during a type I X-ray burst. The convective region is well-mixed with ashes of nuclear burning, and its extent determines the burst rise time. We show that the maximum extent of the convective region during photospheric radius expansion (PRE) bursts can be sufficiently great that some ashes of burning are: (1) ejected by the radiation-driven wind during the PRE phase and, (2) exposed at the neutron star surface following the PRE phase. We calculate the expected column density of ashes in hydrogen-like states and find that the resulting photoionization edges should be detectable with current high spectral resolution X-ray telescopes. A detection would probe the burst nuclear burning processes and might enable a measurement of the neutron star gravitational redshift.

II. We discuss physical experiments achievable via the monitoring of stellar dynamics near the massive black hole (MBH) at the Galactic center with a next-generation, extremely large telescope (ELT). We use the Markov Chain Monte Carlo method to evaluate the constraints that the monitoring of these orbits will place on the matter content at the Galactic center. We compare these future constraints with those obtained with the current data. We also describe how the monitoring of stellar proper motions can be used to probe directly the masses of isolated stellar remnants near the MBH.

III. We calculate the abundance of dark-matter concentrations that are sufficiently overdense to produce a detectable weak-gravitational-lensing signal. Most of these overdensities are virialized halos containing identifiable X-ray and/or optical clusters. However, a significant fraction are nonvirialized, cluster-mass overdensities still in the process of gravitational collapse---these should produce significantly weaker or no X-ray emission. Our predicted abundance of such dark clusters is consistent with the abundance implied by the detection of apparent dark lenses. We also examine the prospect of using weak gravitational lenses to constrain the dark energy equation-of-state parameter.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Dark energy; Extremely Large Telescope
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Major Option:Astronomy
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Kamionkowski, Marc P.
Group:TAPIR, Astronomy Department
Thesis Committee:
  • Sari, Re'em (chair)
  • Blain, Andrew W.
  • Kamionkowski, Marc P.
  • Kulkarni, Shrinivas R.
Defense Date:18 May 2005
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-06022005-151603
Persistent URL:
Weinberg, Nevin Nachum0000-0001-9194-2084
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:2391
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:03 Jun 2005
Last Modified:22 May 2020 22:17

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