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Radiative transfer in very strong magnetic fields


Miller, Michael Coleman (1990) Radiative transfer in very strong magnetic fields. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/9t01-q903.


NOTE: Text or symbols not renderable in plain ASCII are indicated by [...]. Abstract is included in .pdf document. The study of the cooling of neutron stars has been undertaken by many researchers in the past twenty-five years, but this study has been made difficult by the inherent theoretical and observational uncertainties; most observations of their thermal X-ray flux have yielded only upper limits. More sensitive satellites such as ROSAT and AXAF may provide more positive flux information, and it is important to know how to interpret these data in terms of surface temperature. One of the most important factors in this interpretation is the effect of the surface magnetic field. Young neutron stars are believed to have extremely strong magnetic fields, on the order of 10(12)G. These fields dominate the physics of the atmosphere. In particular, atoms in the atmospheres of neutron stars have much greater binding energies than in the zero-field case, and they are constrained to move along the field lines. We use a multiconfigurational Hartree-Fock code, modified for very strong magnetic fields, to calculate wavefunctions, energies and oscillator strengths for several atoms in representative values of the magnetic field. We then use these simulations to construct model atmospheres for neutron stars. Because of the low mass necessary for optical depth unity in the soft X-rays (typically [...]) and because of the short time scale for gravitational separation (~ 1 - 100s), the photosphere is likely to consist of a pure element. Numerous processes could cause many elements to be important, so we investigate atmospheres consisting of pure hydrogen, helium, carbon, nitrogen and silicon in magnetic fields of 9.4 x 10(11)G, 2.35 x 10(12)G, and 4.7 x 10(12)G. We also use the high-field energies to investigate soft X-ray lines in gamma-ray bursts. Highly ionized elements could create absorption lines in the 1-15keV range, and the identification of such lines in conjunction with cyclotron lines would determine the magnetic field and gravitational redshift on the surface of the star, which would provide clues to the equation of state on the interior. We conclude with a discussion of the prospect of identifying these lines with future satellites.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Physics
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Major Option:Physics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Phinney, E. Sterl
Group:TAPIR, Astronomy Department
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:22 May 1990
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-06272007-101041
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:2743
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:19 Jul 2007
Last Modified:16 Apr 2021 23:22

Thesis Files

PDF (Miller_mc_1990.pdf) - Final Version
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