AAS 207th Meeting, 8-12 January 2006
Session 117 SIM
Poster, Wednesday, 9:20am-6:30pm, January 11, 2006, Exhibit Hall

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[117.02] Studying X-Ray Binaries with SIM: The Mass of the Neutron Star in Vela X-1

J.A. Tomsick (CASS/UCSD), A. Quirrenbach, S. Reffert (Leiden Observatory)

Under our program for the Space Interferometry Mission (SIM Planetquest) ``Masses and Luminosities of X-Ray Binaries" we will use SIM's microarcsecond astrometry to map out binary orbits for about 5 X-ray binaries and measure distances and proper motions for about 25 systems. The main goal of the orbital measurements is to determine the masses of the black holes and the neutron stars in these systems. Precise mass determinations of neutron star systems can address the question of whether neutron stars can be significantly more massive than 1.4 solar masses, which would eliminate soft models of the neutron star equations of state. Here, we use the current estimates for the properties of X-ray binaries along with simulations in order to determine which systems are the best SIM targets and how accurately we will be able to measure compact object masses. We focus on the neutron star binary Vela X-1, and our results indicate that we will be able to measure the neutron star mass to an accuracy of better than 4%.

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