A window into the neutron star: Modelling the cooling of accretion heated neutron star crusts [HEAP]


In accreting neutron star X-ray transients, the neutron star crust can be substantially heated out of thermal equilibrium with the core during an accretion outburst. The observed subsequent cooling in quiescence (when accretion has halted) offers a unique opportunity to study the structure and thermal properties of the crust. Initially crust cooling modelling studies focussed on transient X-ray binaries with prolonged accretion outbursts (> 1 year) such that the crust would be significantly heated for the cooling to be detectable. Here we present the results of applying a theoretical model to the observed cooling curve after a short accretion outburst of only ~10 weeks. In our study we use the 2010 outburst of the transiently accreting 11 Hz X-ray pulsar in the globular cluster Terzan 5. Observationally it was found that the crust in this source was still hot more than 4 years after the end of its short accretion outburst. From our modelling we found that such a long-lived hot crust implies some unusual crustal properties such as a very low thermal conductivity (> 10 times lower than determined for the other crust cooling sources). In addition, we present our preliminary results of the modelling of the ongoing cooling of the neutron star in MXB 1659-298. This transient X-ray source went back into quiescence in March 2017 after an accretion phase of ~1.8 years. We compare our predictions for the cooling curve after this outburst with the cooling curve of the same source obtained after its previous outburst which ended in 2001.

Read this paper on arXiv…

M. Wijngaarden, R. Wijnands, L. Ootes, et. al.
Thu, 7 Dec 17

Comments: 4 pages, 1 figure, to appear in the proceedings of “IAUS 337: Pulsar Astrophysics – The Next 50 Years” eds: P. Weltevrede, B.B.P. Perera, L. Levin Preston & S. Sanidas