McKinley Brumback

PhD Student in Physics and Astronomy

I currently work with Prof. Ryan Hickox on an X-ray pulsar called LMC X-4. Pulsars are highly magnetic neutron stars whose magnetic field is not aligned with their axis of rotation. The magnetic field sweeps like a lighthouse beam, and can be observed when the beam is pointing in the direction of Earth, creating a periodic, "pulsed" signal. An X-ray pulsar is pulling matter from a companion star, and thus its pulsed signal comprises of X-rays from both the pulsar itself and the accretion disk. These two signals have different periods, and by closely analyzing the pulse profile and energy spectrum of these signals, I can determine the shape of the accretion disk. This information can help astronomers understand the process of accretion under the influence of a strong magnetic field, which is not widely understood.



B.S. in Physics, Hamilton College