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Constraining the neutron star equation of state using XMM-Newton

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, MA 02138, Massachusetts, USA; Astronomical Institute, Utrecht University, 3508 TA, Utrecht, The Netherlands; Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, Groningen University, 9700 AV, Groningen, The Netherlands
Astronomische Nachrichten (Impact Factor: 1.4). 02/2008; DOI: 10.1002/asna.200710912
Source: OAI

ABSTRACT We have identified three possible ways in which future XMM-Newton observations can provide significant constraints on the equation of state of neutron stars. First, using a long observation of the neutron star X-ray transient Cen X-4 in quiescence one can use the RGS spectrum to constrain the interstellar extinction to the source. This removes this parameter from the X-ray spectral fitting of the pn and MOS spectra and allows us to investigate whether the variability observed in the quiescent X-ray spectrum of this source is due to variations in the soft thermal spectral component or variations in the power law spectral component coupled with variations in NH. This will test whether the soft thermal spectral component can indeed be due to the hot thermal glow of the neutron star. Potentially such an observation could also reveal redshifted spectral lines from the neutron star surface. Second, XMM-Newton observations of radius expansion type I Xray bursts might reveal redshifted absorption lines from the surface of the neutron star. Third, XMM-Newton observations of eclipsing quiescent low-mass X-ray binaries provide the eclipse duration. With this the system inclination can be determined accurately. The inclination determined from the X-ray eclipse duration in quiescence, the rotational velocity of the companion star and the semi-amplitude of the radial velocity curve determined through optical spectroscopy, yield the neutron star mass.

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