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The Formation and Evolution of Neutron Stars: Astrometry, Timing, and Transients


Cameron, Patrick Brian (2009) The Formation and Evolution of Neutron Stars: Astrometry, Timing, and Transients. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/HTW7-8X31.


In order to address open questions regarding the death of massive stars and the evolution of the stellar fossils left behind, we use techniques spanning the electromagnetic spectrum to study the youngest and oldest neutron stars. We begin by exploring and developing a new technique --- ground-based astrometry with adaptive optics. This technology is relatively new to astronomy, and has incredible potential for tracking the motions of stars. We enumerate experimental design consideration for mitigating systematic errors and present an optimal estimation algorithm capable of delivering unprecedented astrometric precision and accuracy from the ground. We verify the performance of our technique using experimental data, and discuss the astrometric potential of adaptive optics on large aperture telescopes. We then apply our knowledge to track the motions of magnetars. These objects harbor ultra-strong magnetic fields and give rise to the most intense high-energy transients in the sky. The proper motion survey presented here is the first of its kind, and is capable of directly addressing the open questions regarding their origin and evolution in a model independent fashion. We also present radio studies of the aftermath of the brightest magnetar flare ever recorded. Finally, we shift to probing the emission mechanism of the oldest neutron stars, millisecond pulsars in globular clusters, that are revived at the end of their by lives their binary companions.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:adaptive optics; compact objects; neutron stars
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Major Option:Astrophysics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Kulkarni, Shrinivas R.
Group:Astronomy Department
Thesis Committee:
  • Phinney, E. Sterl (chair)
  • Martin, D. Christopher
  • Cohen, Judith G.
  • Dekany, Richard G.
  • Kulkarni, Shrinivas R.
Defense Date:2 June 2008
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-08152008-140704
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:3140
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:22 Oct 2008
Last Modified:09 Mar 2020 17:30

Thesis Files

PDF (PBCameron_thesis.pdf) - Final Version
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