Thermonuclear explosions occur every day on the surface of neutron stars in our Galaxy. These events are frequently detected by space observatories as prompt bursts of X-rays, and they probe the laws of physics under the most extreme conditions, which can never be reproduced in laboratories on Earth.
The proposed project offers students the opportunity to contribute to the methodical investigation of a large amount of X-ray burst data, as well as to discover new X-ray bursts.
The department of Astrophysics at DTU Space has built the X-ray monitor, JEM-X, aboard the ESA satellite INTEGRAL (INTErnational Gamma RAy Laboratory), which has been in orbit, observing the sky, since 2002. New observational data are regularly collected and processed at DTU Space with the aim of monitoring the activity, in the 3-30 keV energy range, of galactic X-ray sources such as black holes and neutron stars. Some of the most spectacular events that we observe are so-called X-ray bursts emitted by thermonuclear explosions on the surface of neutron stars.
The purpose of the project is to develop and exploit our database of >2500 X-ray bursts that have been detected by the JEM-X instrument in the past 14 years. Acquisition and analysis of new, near-real time data may also be considered. Additional observations obtained with the NASA satellites NuSTAR and Swift may also be incorporated to the project.
The measurements obtained from X-ray burst observations include peak intensity and rise time, temperature and emission area variations, energy release, and burst recurrence times. These parameters hold key information about the interior properties and composition of neutron stars.
Research on X-ray bursts is currently one of the most active fields in astrophysics, and the international community is looking forward to an extended catalog of X-ray burst observations and results, such as ours, with which to confront theoretical models of neutron stars.
The students will achieve a working knowledge of the technology used in
modern astrophysics by exploring actual data from instruments currently
in orbit. With this project you will learn to process scientific data, perform methodical work in relating experiment to theory, and interpret, evaluate and summarize the results, as well as writing a structured report to present your investigations to other astronomers. You will become familiar with the software and methods used in modern high energy astrophysics to analyze the observations.
New discoveries are expected and will lead to publications in order to inform the wider astronomical community.
Some basic knowledge of Linux (Unix) is preferable.