Magnetar field evolution and crustal plasticity

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Abstract

The activity of magnetars is believed to be powered by colossal magnetic energy reservoirs. We sketch an evolutionary picture in which internal field evolution in magnetars generates a twisted corona, from which energy may be released suddenly in a single giant flare, or more gradually through smaller outbursts and persistent emission. Given the ages of magnetars and the energy of their giant flares, we suggest that their evolution is driven by a novel mechanism: magnetic flux transport/decay due to persistent plastic flow in the crust, which would invalidate the common assumption that the crustal lattice is static and evolves only under Hall drift and Ohmic decay. We estimate the field strength required to induce plastic flow as a function of crustal depth, and the viscosity of the plastic phase. The star's superconducting core may also play a role in magnetar field evolution, depending on the star's spindown history and how rotational vortices and magnetic fluxtubes interact.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberL21
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Volume824
Issue number2
Early online date15 Jun 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • dense matter
  • magnetic fields
  • stars: flare
  • stars: magnetars
  • stars: neutron

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