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Radiative precession of an isolated neutron star

Melatos, A. (2000) Radiative precession of an isolated neutron star. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 313 (2). pp. 217-228. ISSN 0035-8711. doi:10.1046/j.1365-8711.2000.03031.x.

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Euler's equations of motion are derived exactly for a rigid, triaxial, internally frictionless neutron star spinning down electromagnetically in vacuo. It is shown that the star precesses, but not freely: its regular precession relative to the principal axes of inertia couples to the component of the radiation torque associated with the near-zone radiation fields and is modified into an anharmonic wobble. The wobble period τ1 typically satisfies τ1≲10^−2τ0, where τ0 is the braking time-scale; the wobble amplitude evolves towards a constant non-zero value, oscillates, or decreases to zero, depending on the degree of oblateness or prolateness of the star and its initial spin state; the (negative) angular frequency derivative ω˙ oscillates as well, exhibiting quasi-periodic spikes for triaxial stars of a particular figure. In light of these properties, a young, Crab-like pulsar ought to display fractional changes of order unity in the space of a few years in its pulse profile, magnetic inclination angle and ω˙. Such changes are not observed, implying that the wobble is damped rapidly by internal friction, if its amplitude is initially large upon crystallization of the stellar crust. If the friction is localized in the inner and outer crusts, the thermal luminosity of the neutron star increases by a minimum amount ΔL≈3×10^31(ε/10^−12)(ω/10^3 rad s^−1)^2(τd/1 yr)^−1 erg s^−1, where ε is the ellipticity, and τd is the damping time-scale, with the actual value of ΔL determined in part by the thermal conduction time τcond. The increased luminosity is potentially detectable as thermal X-rays lasting for a time ≈ max(τd,τcond) following crystallization of the crust.

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Additional Information:© 2000 RAS. Accepted 1999 August 2. Received 1999 February 1; in original form 1998 February 26. I thank Sterl Phinney, Peter Goldreich and Jon Arons for comments. This work was supported by NASA Grant NAG5-2756, NSF Grant AST-93-15455, and the Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science. [AM was a] Miller Fellow.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
National Science FoundationAST-93-15455
Miller Institute for Basic Research in ScienceUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:neutron stars; pulsars; stellar rotation
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:MELmnras00
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:11184
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:06 Aug 2008 05:10
Last Modified:08 Nov 2021 21:34

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