thesis - Magnetars Distances Variability and...

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Unformatted text preview: Magnetars: Distances, Variability and Multi-Wavelength Observations by Martin Durant A thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics University of Toronto Copyright c circlecopyrt 2006 by Martin Durant ii Abstract Magnetars: Distances, Variability and Multi-Wavelength Observations Martin Durant Doctor of Philosophy Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics University of Toronto 2006 The Anomalous X-ray Pulsars (AXPs) represent our best opportunity to study in de- tail the physics of magnetars: neutron stars with amazingly strong magnetic fields, so strong, that they fundamentally affect their energetics, evolution and appearance. In order to constraints the processes occurring in magnetar interiors and magnetospheres, I have conducted a phenomenological study of their behaviour. I have observed AXPs in the infrared, optical and X-ray bands, and measured both their variability and global spectral energy distributions. By measuring the interstellar extinction, these spectra do not have the large uncertainties of previous works, and by measuring the distances to the objects, the spectra can be fairly compared. During this work: infrared or optical counterparts have been found for all but one AXP; the brightest source (4U 0142+61) was found to vary rapidly and significantly in each waveband over years of monitoring, yet with no apparent correlations between spectral regions; the contradictions in the previous measures of extinction were resolved; and all six Galactic AXPs had their distances determined and were placed on a map of the Galactic Plane. From these studies, I find that, despite differences among AXPs and their variabil- ity in time, some patterns emerge. Perhaps most importantly, the X-ray luminosities of AXPs are very similar, as are their X-ray to infrared flux ratios. In this way, infor- mation is starting to mount with which to confront theoretical models, and understand the underlying conditions that give rise to the emission seen. iii Acknowledgements Thanks to my supervisor, Marten van Kerkwijk, whose ideas and methodology can be seen throughout this thesis. Thanks to others who helped me with my work over the last four years: the good people of McGill, Vik Dhillon, Bryan Gaesler and others. Specific thanks to those who helped to correct my thesis: Kevin, Hilding and Heather, and my external Deepto Chakrabarty. I have been dealt with well by telescopes, been glad for the existance of data archives, and had smooth computing throughout thanks to Hugh and Ross. My parents have ever been behind me, when I needed reassurance; Szonya has told me just how to deal with the academic world, and finally, for keeping me going day to day, I thank Sharon....
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thesis - Magnetars Distances Variability and...

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