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The Extremes of Magnetic Accretion

Presentation #103.02 in the session “Dissertation I–III Prize Talk”.

Published onApr 01, 2022
The Extremes of Magnetic Accretion

Accretion is a ubiquitous process across the universe, occuring in systems ranging from forming stars to active galactic nuclei. X-ray binary systems, where a compact object resides in close orbit with a donor star, are prime targets to study the many facets of this process: numerous, located at small distances, and highly variable, they allow us to track accretion through different regimes. In this context, neutron star systems are particularly interesting: with their stellar surface and magnetic fields, they affect both the inner accretion flow and the launch of outflows, such as jets. In this talk, I will summarize my multi-wavelength research on this interplay between the magnetized neutron star and the accretion process across a wide range of X-ray binary types. Firstly, I will focus on the role of neutron stars with relatively weak magnetic fields (i.e. <109 Gauss) in truncating the accretion disk, launching winds, and regulating the hot inner accretion flow. I will show how X-ray reflection spectroscopy, first used succesfully in accreting black hole systems, can also probe such magnetic interactions in accreting neutron stars. Secondly, I will switch up both observing band and target, by discussing radio observations of accreting, strongly-magnetized (>1012 Gauss) neutron stars. In particular, I will show how recent developments in the sensitivity of radio observatories allow us to study such systems for the first time. In turn, I will explore the implications of these studies on our understanding of jet physics, arguing that currently-accepted jet models are insufficient to explain radio observations of strongly-magnetized neutron stars. Finally, I will discuss a large radio/X-ray census of accreting neutron stars, regardless of their properties, and future prospects for this field of study.

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