Seminar: Wednesday, March 03, 2010 at 3:30 pm
Neutron stars are the compact cores of collapsed massive stars. They contain as much mass as our Sun but with radii of the size of the capital beltway. Pulsars are rapidly rotating neutron stars with magnetic fields on the order of 10^11 times that of our Sun. There exists a small population of pulsars with magnetic fields three orders of magnitude greater than canonical pulsars -- the aptly named magnetars. These fields are so high that exotic effects due to quantum electrodynamics cannot be neglected when modeling their emission. The enormous magnetic fields of magnetars power bright X-ray pulsations, clusters of bright X-ray bursts, as well as gamma-ray flares that are energetic enough to disturb the Earth's Ionosphere. I will review how our X-ray observations have cemented the magnetar model for a an enigmatic group of pulsars, for which the magnetar interpretation was controversial for several decades. I will also present recent results on a missing-link between canonical pulsars and magnetars.
Physics Bldg., room 401