- Testing the deep-crustal heating model using quiescent neutron-star very-faint X-ray transients and the possibility of partially accreted crusts in accreting neutron stars
- Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
- Volume | Issue number
- 432 | 3
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy (API)
It is assumed that accreting neutron stars in low-mass X-ray binaries are heated due to the compression of the existing crust by the freshly accreted matter which gives rise to a variety of nuclear reactions in the crust. It has been shown that most of the energy is released deep in the crust by pycnonuclear reactions involving low-Z elements (the deep-crustal heating scenario). In this paper we discuss if neutron stars in the so-called very-faint X-ray transients (VFXTs; those transients have outburst peak 2-10 keV X-ray luminosities <1 × 1036 erg s−1) can be used to test this deep-crustal heating model. We demonstrate that such systems would indeed be very interesting objects to test the deep-crustal heating model with, but that the interpretation of the results might be challenging because of the large uncertainties in our estimates of the accretion rate history of those VFXTs, both the short-term (less than a few tens of thousands of years) and the one throughout their lifetime. The latter is particularly important because it can be so low that the neutron stars might not have accreted enough matter to become massive enough that enhanced core cooling processes become active. Therefore, they could be relatively warm compared to other systems for which such enhanced cooling processes have been inferred. However, the amount of matter can also not be too low because then the crust might not have been replaced significantly by accreted matter and thus a hybrid crust of partly accreted and partly original, albeit further compressed matter, might be present. This would inhibit the full range of pycnonuclear reactions to occur and therefore possibly decrease the amount of heat deposited in the crust. More detailed calculations of the heating and cooling properties of such hybrid crusts have to be performed to be conclusive. Furthermore, better understanding is needed about how a hybrid crust affects other properties such as the thermal conductivity. A potentially interesting way to observe the effects of a hybrid crust on the heating and cooling of an accreting neutron star is to observe the crust cooling of such a neutron star after a prolonged (years to decades) accretion episode and compare the results with similar studies performed for neutron stars with a fully accreted crust. We also show that some individual neutron-star low-mass X-ray binaries might have hybrid crusts as well as possibly many of the neutron stars in high-mass X-ray binaries. This has to be taken into account when studying the cooling properties of those systems when they are in quiescence. In addition, we show that the VFXTs are likely not the dominate transients that are associated with the brightest (∼1033 erg s−1) low-luminosity X-ray sources in globular clusters as was previously hypothesized.
- go to publisher's site
If you believe that digital publication of certain material infringes any of your rights or (privacy) interests, please let the Library know, stating your reasons. In case of a legitimate complaint, the Library will make the material inaccessible and/or remove it from the website. Please Ask the Library, or send a letter to: Library of the University of Amsterdam, Secretariat, Singel 425, 1012 WP Amsterdam, The Netherlands. You will be contacted as soon as possible.