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The Atmospheric Dynamics of Pulsar Companions


Jermyn, Adam Sean (2015) The Atmospheric Dynamics of Pulsar Companions. Senior thesis (Major), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/Z90Z716M.


Pulsars emit radiation over an extremely wide frequency range, from radio through gamma. Recently, systems in which this radiation significantly alters the atmospheres of low-mass pulsar companions have been discovered. These systems, ranging from ones with highly anisotropic heating to those with transient X-ray emissions, represent an exciting opportunity to investigate pulsars through the changes they induce in their companions. In this work, we present both analytic and numerical work investigating these phenomena, with a particular focus on atmospheric heat transport, transient phenomena, and the possibility of deep heating via gamma rays. We find that certain classes of binary systems may explain decadal-timescale X-ray transient phenomena, as well as the formation of so-called redback companion systems. We also posit an explanation for the formation of high-eccentricity millisecond pulsars with white dwarf companions. In addition, we examine the temperature anisotropy induced by the Pulsar in its companion, and demonstrate that this may be used to infer properties of both the companion and the Pulsar wind. Finally, we explore the possibility of spontaneously generated banded winds in rapidly rotating convecting objects.

Item Type:Thesis (Senior thesis (Major))
Subject Keywords:Pulsar, atmosphere, fluid mechanics
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Major Option:Astrophysics
Awards:Caltech: Library Friends Senior Thesis Prize Winner, 2015. Haren Lee Fisher Memorial Award In Junior Physics, 2014. Jack E. Froehlich Memorial Award, 2014. Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, 2014. Frederic W. Hinrichs, Jr., Memorial Award, 2015. George W. Housner Award, 2015. D. S. Kothari Prize In Physics, 2015. American Physical Society: LeRoy Apker Award, 2015.
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Phinney, E. Sterl
Group:Astronomy Department, Senior Undergraduate Thesis Prize
Thesis Committee:
  • None, None
Defense Date:11 June 2015
Non-Caltech Author Email:adamjermyn (AT)
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:06112015-211414622
Persistent URL:
Jermyn, Adam Sean0000-0001-5048-9973
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:9019
Deposited By: Adam Jermyn
Deposited On:16 Dec 2015 15:52
Last Modified:02 Aug 2022 21:43

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