On the weak magnetic field of millisecond pulsars: does it decay before accretion?

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DOI

  • Marilyn Cruces, Max Planck Inst Radioastron, Max Planck Society, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile
  • ,
  • Andreas Reisenegger, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile
  • ,
  • Thomas M. Tauris

Millisecond pulsars (MSPs) are old, fast spinning neutron stars (NSs) thought to have evolved from classical pulsars in binary systems, where the rapid rotation is caused by the accretion of matter and angular momentum from their companion. During this transition between classical and MSPs, there is a magnetic field reduction of 4 orders of magnitude, which is not well understood. According to the standard scenario, the magnetic field is reduced as a consequence of accretion, either through ohmic dissipation or through screening by the accreted matter. We explored an alternative hypothesis in which the magnetic field is reduced through ambipolar diffusion before the accretion. This is particularly effective during the long epoch in which the pulsar has cooled, but has not yet started accreting. This makes the final magnetic field dependent on the evolution time of the companion star and thus its initial mass. We use observed binary systems to constrain the time available for the magnetic field decay based On the current pulsar companion: a helium white dwarf, a carbon oxygen white dwarf, or another NS, Based On a simplified model without baryon pairing, we show that the proposed process agrees with the general distribution of observed magnetic field strengths in binaries, but is not able to explain some mildly recycled pulsars where no significant decay appears to have occurred, We discuss the possibility of other formation channels for these systems and the conditions under which the magnetic field evolution would he set by the NS crust rather than the core.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume490
Issue2
Pages (from-to)2013-2022
Number of pages10
ISSN0035-8711
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

    Research areas

  • magnetic fields, stars: neutron, pulsars: general, white dwarfs, X-rays: binaries, WHITE-DWARF COMPANIONS, NEUTRON-STAR, X-RAY, AMBIPOLAR DIFFUSION, MHD INSTABILITIES, LOW-MASS, EVOLUTION, EQUILIBRIUM, DISCOVERY, BINARIES

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