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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2017

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.S.

Department

Physics and Astronomy

First Advisor

Edward M. Cackett

Abstract

Neutron stars in binary systems can undergo periods of accretion (outburst), where in- falling material heats the crust of the star out of thermal equilibrium with the core. When accretion stops (quiescence), we can directly observe the thermal relaxation of the crust. Crustal cooling of accretion-heated neutron stars provides insight into the stellar interior of neutron stars. The neutron star X-ray transient, KS 1731−260, was in outburst for 12.5 years before returning to quiescence in 2001. Here, we present a 150 ks Chandra observation of KS 1731−260 taken in August 2015, about 14.5 years into quiescence. We find that the neutron star surface temperature is consistent with the previous observation, suggesting the crust has reached thermal equilibrium with the core. Using a theoretical thermal evolution code, we fit the observed cooling curves and constrain the core temperature, composition, and the required level of extra shallow heating.

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