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Type I X-ray Bursts at Low Accretion Rates

Abstract

Neutron stars, with their strong surface gravity, have interestingly short timescales for the sedimentation of heavy elements. Recent observations of unstable thermonuclear burning (observed as X-ray bursts) on the surfaces of slowly accreting neutron stars (<0.01< 0.01 of the Eddington rate) motivate us to examine how sedimentation of CNO isotopes affects the ignition of these bursts. We further estimate the burst development using a simple one-zone model with a full reaction network. We report a region of mass accretion rates for weak H flashes. Such flashes can lead to a large reservoir of He, the unstable burning of which may explain some observed long bursts (duration 1000\sim 1000 s).Comment: 6 pages, 2 figures, submitted to the proceedings of the conference "The Multicoloured Landscape of Compact Objects and Their Explosive Origins'', 2006 June 11--24, Cefalu, Sicily (Italy), to be published by AI

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