Semester

Fall

Date of Graduation

2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Type

PhD

College

Eberly College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Physics and Astronomy

Committtee Chair

Maura A. McLaughlin

Committee Co-Chair

Loren D. Anderson

Committee Member

Majid Jaridi

Committee Member

Duncan R. Lorimer

Committee Member

Sean T. McWilliams

Abstract

Seven years ago, a new class of pulsars called the Rotating Radio Transients (RRATs) was discovered with the Parkes radio telescope in Australia (McLaughlin et al., 2006). These neutron stars are characterized by strong radio bursts at repeatable dispersion measures, but not detectable using standard periodicity-search algorithms. We now know of roughly 100 of these objects, discovered in new surveys and re-analysis of archival survey data. They generally have longer periods than those of the normal pulsar population, and several have high magnetic fields, similar to those other neutron star populations like the X-ray bright magnetars. However, some of the RRATs have spin-down properties very similar to those of normal pulsars, making it difficult to determine the cause of their unusual emission and possible evolutionary relationships between them and other classes of neutron stars.;We have calculated single-pulse flux densities for eight RRAT sources observed using the Parkes radio telescope. Like normal pulsars, the pulse amplitude distributions are well described by log-normal probability distribution functions, though two show evidence for an additional power-law tail. Spectral indices are calculated for the seven RRATs which were detected at multiple frequencies. These RRATs have a mean spectral index of 〈alpha SI〉 = -3.2(7), or 〈alphaSI ln> = -3.1(1) when using mean flux densities derived from fitting log-normal probability distribution functions to the pulse amplitude distributions, suggesting that the RRATs have steeper spectra than normal pulsars. When only considering the three RRATs for which we have a wide range of observing frequencies, however, 〈alpha SI〉 and 〈alphaSI ln〉 become --1.7(1) and --2.0(1), respectively, and are roughly consistent with those measured for normal pulsars. In all cases, these spectral indices exclude magnetar-like flat spectra. For PSR J1819--1458, the RRAT with the highest bursting rate, pulses were detected at 685 and 3029 MHz in simultaneous observations and have a spectral index consistent with our other analysis. We also present the results of simultaneous radio and X-ray observations of PSR J1819--1458. Our 94-ks XMM-Newton observation of the high magnetic field (~5x109 T) pulsar reveals a blackbody spectrum ( kT~130 eV) with a broad absorption feature, possibly composed of two lines at ~1.0 and ~1.3 keV. We performed a correlation analysis of the X-ray photons with radio pulses detected in 16.2 hours of simultaneous observations at 1--2 GHz with the Green Bank, Effelsberg, and Parkes telescopes, respectively. Both the detected X-ray photons and radio pulses appear to be randomly distributed in time. We find tentative evidence for a correlation between the detected radio pulses and X-ray photons on timescales of less than 10 pulsar spin periods, with the probability of this occurring by chance being 0.46%. This suggests that the physical process producing the radio pulses may also heat the polar cap.

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