Deep crustal heating by neutrinos from the surface of accreting neutron stars

We present a new mechanism for deep crustal heating in accreting neutron stars. Charged pions ($\pi^+$) are produced in nuclear collisions on the neutron star surface during active accretion and upon decay they provide a flux of neutrinos into the neutron star crust. For massive and/or compact neutron stars, neutrinos deposit ≈1--2MeV of heat per accreted nucleon into the inner crust. The strength of neutrino heating is comparable to the previously known sources of deep crustal heating, such as from pycnonuclear fusion reactions, and is relevant for studies of cooling neutron stars. We model the thermal evolution of a transient neutron star in a low-mass X-ray binary, and in the particular case of the neutron star MXB~1659-29 we show that additional deep crustal heating requires a higher thermal conductivity for the neutron star inner crust. A better knowledge of pion production cross sections near threshold would improve the accuracy of our predictions.

Publication Date:
Jun 29 2018
Date Submitted:
Jul 01 2019
Physical Review C
98, 025801
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 Record created 2019-07-01, last modified 2019-08-05

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