I. Wasserman - Cornell University

I. Wasserman
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I. Wasserman
Cornell University
College Station
United States

Pubs By Year

Pub Categories

Astrophysics (33)
General Relativity and Quantum Cosmology (26)
High Energy Physics - Theory (11)
High Energy Physics - Phenomenology (8)
High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena (7)
Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics (3)
Statistics - Applications (2)
Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (2)
Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (2)
Physics - Soft Condensed Matter (1)
Physics - Accelerator Physics (1)
Physics - Plasma Physics (1)

Publications Authored By I. Wasserman

Plasma lenses in the host galaxies of fast radio bursts (FRBs) can strongly modulate FRB amplitudes for a wide range of distances, including the $\sim $ Gpc distance of the repeater FRB121102. To produce caustics, the lens' dispersion-measure depth (${\rm DM}_{\ell}$), scale size ($a$), and distance from the source ($d_{\rm sl}$) must satisfy ${\rm DM}_{\ell} d_{\rm sl} / a^2 \gtrsim 0.65~ {\rm pc^2 \ AU^{-2} \ cm^{-3}}$. Read More

We analyze plasma dispersion and scattering of fast radio bursts (FRBs) to identify the dominant locations of free electrons along their lines of sight and thus constrain the distances of the burst sources themselves. We establish the average $\tau$-DM relation for Galactic pulsars and use it as a benchmark for discussing FRB scattering. Though scattering times $\tau$ for FRBs are large in the majority of the 17 events we analyze, they are systematically smaller than those of Galactic pulsars that have similar dispersion measures (DMs). Read More

We model the generation of a magnetic field in a protostellar disc using an \alpha-dynamo and perform axisymmetric magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) simulations of a T Tauri star. We find that for small values of the dimensionless dynamo parameter $\alpha_d$ the poloidal field grows exponentially at a rate ${\sigma} \propto {\Omega}_K \sqrt{\alpha_d}$ , before saturating to a value $\propto \sqrt{\alpha_d}$ . The dynamo excites dipole and octupole modes, but quadrupole modes are suppressed, because of the symmetries of the seed field. Read More

We consider radio bursts that originate from extragalactic neutron stars (NSs) by addressing three questions about source distances. What are the physical limitations on coherent radiation at GHz frequencies? Do they permit detection at cosmological distances? How many bursts per NS are needed to produce the inferred burst rate $\sim 10^3$-$10^4 $sky$^{-1}$ day$^{-1}$? The burst rate is comparable to the NS formation rate in a Hubble volume, requiring only one per NS if they are bright enough. However, radiation physics causes us to favor a closer population. Read More

We describe how the nonlinear development of the R mode instability of neutron stars influences spin up to millisecond periods via accretion. Our arguments are based on nearly-resonant interactions of the R mode with pairs of "daughter modes". The amplitude of the R mode saturates at the lowest value for which parametric instability leads to significant excitation of a particular pair of daughters. Read More

We develop the formalism for computing the magnetic field within an axisymmetric neutron star with a strong Type II superconductor core surrounded by a normal conductor. The formalism takes full account of the constraints imposed by hydrostatic equilibrium with a barotropic equation of state. We specialize to purely poloidal magnetic fields and develop the "most dipolar case" for which we find that the surface field strength is $\simeq H_b\epsilon_b/3\simeq 3\times 10^{12}$ G, where $H_b$ is the magnetic field at the outer edge of the core and $\epsilon_b R$ is the thickness of the normal shell. Read More

We study the fluctuations in luminosity distance due to gravitational lensing produced both by galaxy halos and large scale voids. Voids are represented via a "Swiss cheese" model consisting of a \LambdaCDM Friedman-Robertson-Walker background in which a number of randomly distributed, spherical regions of comoving radius 35 Mpc are removed. A fraction of the removed mass is then placed on the shells of the spheres, in the form of randomly located halos, modeled with Navarro-Frenk-White profiles. Read More

Ultra-high energy cosmic rays (UHECRs) are atomic nuclei with energies over ten million times energies accessible to human-made particle accelerators. Evidence suggests that they originate from relatively nearby extragalactic sources, but the nature of the sources is unknown. We develop a multilevel Bayesian framework for assessing association of UHECRs and candidate source populations, and Markov chain Monte Carlo algorithms for estimating model parameters and comparing models by computing, via Chib's method, marginal likelihoods and Bayes factors. Read More

The Earth is continuously showered by charged cosmic ray particles, naturally produced atomic nuclei moving with velocity close to the speed of light. Among these are ultra high energy cosmic ray particles with energy exceeding 5x10^19 eV, which is ten million times more energetic than the most energetic particles produced at the Large Hadron Collider. Astrophysical questions include: what phenomenon accelerates particles to such high energies, and what sort of nuclei are energized? Also, the magnetic deflection of the trajectories of the cosmic rays makes them potential probes of galactic and intergalactic magnetic fields. Read More

We study the fluctuations in luminosity distances due to gravitational lensing by large scale (> 35 Mpc) structures, specifically voids and sheets. We use a simplified "Swiss cheese" model consisting of a \Lambda -CDM Friedman-Robertson-Walker background in which a number of randomly distributed non-overlapping spherical regions are replaced by mass compensating comoving voids, each with a uniform density interior and a thin shell of matter on the surface. We compute the distribution of magnitude shifts using a variant of the method of Holz & Wald (1998), which includes the effect of lensing shear. Read More

We derive an expression for the luminosity distance as a function of redshift for a flat Robertson-Walker spacetime perturbed by arbitrary scalar perturbations possibly produced by a modified gravity theory with two different scalar perturbation potentials. Measurements of the luminosity distance as function of redshift provide a constraint on a combination of the scalar potentials and so they can complement weak lensing and other measurements in trying to distinguish among the various alternative theories of gravity. Read More

We model the nonlinear saturation of the r-mode instability via three-mode couplings and the effects of the instability on the spin evolution of young neutron stars. We include one mode triplet consisting of the r-mode and two near resonant inertial modes that couple to it. We find that the spectrum of evolutions is more diverse than previously thought. Read More

Recently there have been suggestions that the Type Ia supernova data can be explained using only general relativity and cold dark matter with no dark energy. In "Swiss cheese" models of the Universe, the standard Friedmann-Robertson-Walker picture is modified by the introduction of mass compensating spherical inhomogeneities, typically described by the Lemaitre-Tolman-Bondi metric. If these inhomogeneities correspond to underdense cores surrounded by mass-compensating overdense shells, then they can modify the luminosity distance-redshift relation in a way that can mimic accelerated expansion. Read More

Cosmic string networks generate cosmological perturbations actively throughout the history of the universe. Thus, the string sourced anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background is not affected by Silk damping as much as the anisotropy seeded by inflation. The spectrum of perturbations generated by strings does not match the observed CMB spectrum on large angular scales (l<1000) and is bounded to contribute no more than 10% of the total power on those scales. Read More

We calculate the systematic inhomogeneity-induced correction to the cosmological constant that one would infer from an analysis of the luminosities and redshifts of Type Ia supernovae, assuming a homogeneous universe. The calculation entails a post-Newtonian expansion within the framework of second order perturbation theory, wherein we consider the effects of subhorizon density perturbations in a flat, dust dominated universe. Within this formalism, we calculate luminosity distances and redshifts along the past light cone of an observer. Read More

Affiliations: 1Cornell University, 2Cornell University
Category: Astrophysics

We determine constraints on the form of axisymmetric toroidal magnetic fields dictated by hydrostatic balance in a type II superconducting neutron star with a barotropic equation of state. Using Lagrangian perturbation theory, we find the quadrupolar distortions due to such fields for various models of neutron stars with type II superconducting and normal regions. We find that the star becomes prolate and can be sufficiently distorted to display precession with a period of the order of years. Read More

The nonlinear saturation of the r-mode instability and its effects on the spin evolution of Low Mass X-ray Binaries (LMXBs) are modeled using the triplet of modes at the lowest parametric instability threshold. We solve numerically the coupled equations for the three mode amplitudes in conjunction with the spin and temperature evolution equations. We observe that very quickly the mode amplitudes settle into quasi-stationary states. Read More

In a recent publication, we used the data from WMAP and SDSS to constrain the primordial perturbations and to predict the B-mode polarization sourced by cosmic string networks. We have been alerted by A. Slosar to the existence of errors in the code we used to calculate the Cosmic Microwave Background anisotropies from cosmic strings. Read More

There has been much debate over whether or not one could explain the observed acceleration of the Universe with inhomogeneous cosmological models, such as the spherically-symmetric Lemaitre-Tolman-Bondi (LTB) models. It has been claimed that the central observer in these models can observe a local acceleration, which would contradict general theorems. We resolve the contradiction by noting that many of the models that have been explored contain a weak singularity at the location of the observer which makes them unphysical. Read More

The discovery of the first gravitationally redshifted spectral line from a neutron star (NS) by Cottam, Paerels and Mendez has triggered theoretical studies of the physics of atomic line formation in NS atmospheres. Chang, Bildsten and Wasserman showed that the hydrogenic Fe H$\alpha$ line formed above the photosphere of a bursting NS is intrinsically broad. We now include rotational broadening within general relativity and compare the resulting profile to that observed during Type I bursts from EXO 0748-676. Read More

Affiliations: 1Center for Radiophysics and Space Research, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 2Department of Physics, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT, 3Center for Radiophysics and Space Research, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Category: Astrophysics

Stairs, Lyne & Shemar have found that arrival time residuals from PSR B1828-11 vary periodically with a period of 500 days. This behavior can be accounted for by precession of the radiopulsar, an interpretation that is reinforced by the detection of variations in its pulse profile on the same timescale. Here, we model the period residuals from PSR B1828-11 in terms of precession of a triaxial rigid body. Read More

Spherical gravitational collapse of a cold gas of annihilating particles involves a competition between the free-fall rate $\propto\sqrt{\rho}$ and the (s-wave) annihilation rate $\propto\rho$. Thus, there is a critical density $\rhoann$ above which annihilation proceeds faster than free fall. Gravitational collapse of a cloud of (initial) mass $M$ to a black hole is only possible if $3/32\pi G^3M^2\lesssim\rhoann$, or $M\gtrsim\Mann\equiv (3/32\pi G^3\rhoann)^{1/2}$. Read More

Motivated by the measurement of redshifted Fe H$\alpha$ lines during type I X-ray bursts on EXO 0748-676 (Cottam, Paerels & Mendez), we study the formation of atomic Fe lines above the photosphere of a bursting neutron star ($k_BT_{\rm eff} \approx 1-2 {\rm keV}$). We discuss the effects of Stark broadening, resonant scattering and NLTE (level population) on the formation of hydrogenic Fe H$\alpha$, Ly$\alpha$ and P$\alpha$ lines. From the observed equivalent width of the Fe H$\alpha$ line, we find an implied Fe column of $1-3 \times 10^{20} {\rm cm}^{-2}$, which is 3-10 times larger than the Fe column calculated from the accretion/spallation model of Bildsten, Chang & Paerels. Read More

Brane inflation in superstring theory ends when branes collide, initiating the hot big bang. Cosmic superstrings are produced during the brane collision. The cosmic superstrings produced in a D3-brane-antibrane inflationary scenario have a spectrum: $(p,q)$ bound states of $p$ fundamental (F) strings and $q$ D-strings, where $p$ and $q$ are coprime. Read More

We find the constraints from WMAP and SDSS data on the fraction of cosmological fluctuations sourced by local cosmic strings using a Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) analysis. In addition to varying the usual 6 cosmological parameters and the string tension ($\mu$), we also varied the amount of small-scale structure on the strings. Our results indicate that cosmic strings can account for up to 7 (14)% of the total power of the microwave anisotropy at 68 (95)% confidence level. Read More

Two mechanisms for nonlinear mode saturation of the r-mode in neutron stars have been suggested: the parametric instability mechanism involving a small number of modes and the formation of a nearly continuous Kolmogorov-type cascade. Using a network of oscillators constructed from the eigenmodes of a perfect fluid incompressible star, we investigate the transition between the two regimes numerically. Our network includes the 4995 inertial modes up to n<= 30 with 146,998 direct couplings to the r-mode and 1,306,999 couplings with detuning< 0. Read More

We study the stability of a collisionless, relativistic, finite-strength, cylindrical layer of charged particles in free space by solving the linearized Vlasov-Maxwell equations and compute the power of the emitted electromagnetic waves. The layer is rotating in an external magnetic field parallel to the layer. This system is of interest to understanding the high brightness temperature of pulsars which cannot be explained by an incoherent radiation mechanism. Read More

R-modes of a rotating neutron star are unstable because of the emission of gravitational radiation. We explore the saturation amplitudes of these modes determined by nonlinear mode-mode coupling. Modelling the star as incompressible allows the analytic computation of the coupling coefficients. Read More

Non-linear interactions among the inertial modes of a rotating fluid can be described by a network of coupled oscillators. We use such a description for an incompressible fluid to study the development of the r-mode instability of rotating neutron stars. A previous hydrodynamical simulation of the r-mode reported the catastrophic decay of large amplitude r-modes. Read More

Current data exclude cosmic strings as the primary source of primordial density fluctuations. However, in a wide class of inflationary models, strings can form at later stages of inflation and have potentially detectable observational signatures. We study the constraints from WMAP and SDSS data on the fraction of primordial fluctuations sourced by local cosmic strings. Read More

We derive the finite temperature oscillation modes of a harmonically confined Bose-Einstein condensed gas undergoing rigid body rotation supported by a vortex lattice in the condensate. The hydrodynamic modes separate into two classes corresponding to in-phase (center-of-mass) and counter-phase (relative) oscillations of the thermal cloud and the condensate. The in- and counter-phase oscillations are independent of each other in the case where the thermal cloud is inviscid for all modes studied, except the radial pulsations which couple them because the pressure perturbations of the condensate and the thermal cloud are governed by different adiabatic indices. Read More

We study explosions of stars using a one-dimensional Lagrangian hydrodynamics code. We calculate how much mass is liberated as a function of the energy of explosion for a variety of pre-explosion stellar structures and for equations of state with a range of radiation-to-gas pressure ratios. The results show that simple assumptions about the amount of mass lost in an explosion can be quite inaccurate, and that even one-dimensional stars exhibit a rich phenomenology. Read More

Overall, brane inflation is compatible with the recent analysis of the WMAP data. Here we explore the constraints of WMAP and 2dFGRS data on the various brane inflationary scenarios. Brane inflation naturally ends with the production of cosmic strings, which may provide a way to distinguish these models observationally. Read More

Affiliations: 1Department of Physics, University of Milano Bicocca, Italy, 2Center for Radiophysics and Space Research, Cornell University, USA
Category: Astrophysics

If rotating core collapse leads to the formation of a proto-neutron star binary in super-close orbit, then the lighter star, propelled toward the minimum stable mass, explodes. The neutron star (or black hole) that remains acquires a spin-perpendicular kick of very large amplitude. Kicks of the type are required to explain the geodesic precession in double neutron star binaries such as B1913+16. Read More

We present the results of two extensive Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer observations of large X-ray flaring episodes from the high-mass X-ray binary pulsar LMC X-4. Light curves during the flaring episodes comprise bright peaks embedded in relatively fainter regions, with complex patterns of recurrence and clustering of flares. We identify precursors preceding the flaring activity. Read More

Affiliations: 1Cornell University, 2Cornell University, 3Cornell University
Category: Astrophysics

We present Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer observations of the X-ray pulsar SMC X-1. The source is highly variable on short time scales (< 1 h), exhibiting apparent X-ray flares occupying a significant fraction (~3 %) of the total observing time, with a recurrence time of ~100 s. The flares seem to occur over all binary orbital phases, and correlate with the overall variability in the light curve. Read More

We consider the physics of free precession of a rotating neutron star with an oblique magnetic field. We show that if the magnetic stresses are large enough, then there is no possibility of steady rotation, and precession is inevitable. Even if the magnetic stresses are not strong enough to prevent steady rotation, we show that the minimum energy state is one in which the star precesses. Read More

Affiliations: 1University of Milano Bicocca, 2Cornell University
Category: Astrophysics

If core collapse leads to the formation of a rapidly rotating bar-unstable proto-neutron star surrounded by fall-back material, then we might expect it to cool and fragment to form a double (proto)-neutron star binary into a super-close orbit. The lighter star should survive for awhile, until tidal mass loss propels it toward the minimum stable mass of a (proto)-neutron star, whereupon it explodes. Imshennik and Popov have shown that the explosion of the unstable, cold star can result in a large recoil velocity of the remaining neutron star. Read More

The pressureless tachyonic matter recently found in superstring field theory has an over-abundance problem in cosmology. We argue that this problem is naturally solved in the brane inflationary scenario if almost all of the tachyon energy is drained (via its coupling to the inflaton and matter fields) to heating the universe, while the rest of the tachyon energy goes to a network of cosmic strings (lower-dimensional BPS D-branes) produced during the tachyon rolling at the end of inflation. Read More

We examine whether tachyon matter is a viable candidate for the cosmological dark matter. First, we demonstrate that in order for the density of tachyon matter to have an acceptable value today, the magnitude of the tachyon potential energy at the onset of rolling must be finely tuned. For a tachyon potential $V(T)\sim M_{Pl}^4\exp(-T/\tau)$, the tachyon must start rolling at $T\simeq 60\tau$ in order for the density of tachyon matter today to satisfy $\Omega_{T,0}\sim 1$, provided that standard big bang cosmology begins at the same time as the tachyon begins to roll. Read More

We discuss the signature of the scale of short distance physics in the Cosmic Microwave Background. In addition to effects which depend on the ratio of Hubble scale H during inflation to the energy scale M of the short distance physics, there can be effects which depend on $\dot{\phi}^2/M^4$ where $\phi$ is the {\it classical background} of the inflaton field. Therefore, the imprints of short distance physics on the spectrum of Cosmic Microwave Background anisotropies generically involve a {\it double expansion}. Read More

Using a specific model for the expansion rate of the Universe as a function of scale factor, it is demonstrated that the equation of state of the dark energy cannot be determined uniquely from observations at redshifts $z\lesssim{\rm a few}$ unless the fraction of the mass density of the Universe in nonrelativistic particles, $\Omega_M$, somehow can be found independently. A phenomenological model is employed to discuss the utility of additional constraints from the formation of large scale structure and the positions of CMB peaks in breaking the degeneracy among models for the dark energy. Read More

Rossby waves (r-modes) in rapidly rotating neutron stars are unstable because of the emission of gravitational radiation. We study saturation of this instability by nonlinear transfer of energy to stellar "inertial" oscillation modes. We present detailed calculations of stellar inertial modes in the WKB limit, their linear damping by bulk and shear viscosity, and the nonlinear coupling forces among these modes. Read More

We analyze the Time-Tagged Event (TTE) data from observations of gamma ray bursts (GRBs) and soft gamma repeaters (SGRs) by the Burst and Transient Source Experiment (BATSE). These data provide the best available time resolution for GRBs and SGRs. We have performed an extensive search for weak periodic signals in the frequency range 400 Hz to 2500 Hz using the burst records for 2203 GRBs and 152 SGR flares. Read More

We examine several different types of five dimensional stationary spacetimes with bulk scalar fields and parallel 3-branes. We study different methods for avoiding the appearance of spacetime singularities in the bulk for models with and without cosmological expansion. For non-expanding models, we demonstrate that in general the Randall-Sundrum warp factor is recovered in the asymptotic bulk region, although elsewhere the warping may be steeper than exponential. Read More

Recently a brane world perspective on the cosmological constant and the hierarchy problems was presented. Here, we elaborate on some aspects of that particular scenario and discuss the stability of the stationary brane solution and the dynamics of a probe brane. Even though the brane is unstable under a small perturbation from its stationary position, such instability is harmless when the 4-D cosmological constant is very small, as is the case of our universe. Read More

Giant resonances of gravity Kaluza-Klein modes (with tensor couplings) in high energy collisions are expected in the Randall-Sundrum orbifold model that incorporates a plausible solution to the hierarchy problem. When the model is extended to incorporate an exponentially small 4-D cosmological constant, the KK spectrum becomes continuous, even in the compactified case. This is due to the presence of a particle horizon, which provides a way to evade Weinberg's argument of the need of fine-tuning to get a very small cosmological constant. Read More

This review starts with a discussion of the hierarchy of scales, relevant to the description of superfluids in neutron stars, which motivates a subsequent elementary exposition of the Newtonian superfluid hydrodynamics. Starting from the Euler equations for a superfluid and a normal fluid we apply the tensor virial method to obtain the virial equations of the first, second, and third order and to compute their Eulerian perturbations. Special emphasis is put on the computation of perturbations of the new terms due to mutual gravitational attraction and mutual friction between the two fluids. Read More

We develop the formalism required to study the nonlinear interaction of modes in rotating Newtonian stars in the weakly nonlinear regime. The formalism simplifies and extends previous treatments. At linear order, we elucidate and extend slightly a formalism due to Schutz, show how to decompose a general motion of a rotating star into a sum over modes, and obtain uncoupled equations of motion for the mode amplitudes under the influence of an external force. Read More