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      Volume 38, Issue 3

      September 2017

    • Editorial

      Dipankar Bhattacharya K. S. Dwarakanath Sushan Konar

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    • Neutron Stars: Laboratories for Fundamental Physics Under Extreme Astrophysical Conditions

      Debades Bandyopadhyay

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      We discuss different exotic phases and components of matter from the crust to the core of neutron stars based on theoretical models for equations of state relevant to core collapse supernova simulations and neutron star merger. Parameters of the models are constrained from laboratory experiments. It is observed that equations of state involving strangeness degrees of freedom such as hyperons and Bose–Einstein condensates are compatible with $2{M}_{\mathrm{solar}}$ neutron stars. The role of hyperons is explored on the evolution and stability of the protoneutron star in the context of SN1987A. Moment of inertia, mass and radius which are direct probes of neutron star interior are computed and their observational consequences are discussed. We continue our study on the dense matter under strong magnetic fields and its application to magnetoelastic oscillations of neutron stars.

    • Relativistic Disc Line: A Tool to Constrain Neutron Star Equation of State Models

      Sudip Bhattacharyya

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      Relativistic iron Kα spectral emission line from the inner disc of a neutron star Low-Mass X-ray Binary (LMXB) was first detected in 2007. This discovery opened up new ways to probe strong gravity and dense matter. The past decade has seen detections of such a line from many neutron star LMXBs, and confirmation of this line from the same source with several X-ray satellites. These have firmly established the new field of relativistic disc line from neutron star systems in only a decade or so. Fitting the shape of such a line with an appropriate general relativistic model provides the accretion disc inner edge radius to the stellar mass ratio. In this review, we briefly discuss how an accurate measurement of this ratio with a future larger area X-ray instrument can be used to constrain neutron star equation of state models.

    • Neutron Stars in X-ray Binaries and their Environments

      Biswajit Paul

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      Neutron stars in X-ray binary systems are fascinating objects that display a wide range of timing and spectral phenomena in the X-rays. Not only parameters of the neutron stars, like magnetic field strength and spin period evolve in their active binary phase, the neutron stars also affect the binary systems and their immediate surroundings in many ways. Here we discuss some aspects of the interactions of the neutron stars with their environments that are revelaed from their X-ray emission. We discuss some recent developments involving the process of accretion onto high magnetic field neutron stars: accretion stream structure and formation, shape of pulse profile and its changes with accretion torque. Various recent studies of reprocessing of X-rays in the accretion disk surface, vertical structures of the accretion disk and wind of companion star are also discussed here. The X-ray pulsars among the binary neutron stars provide excellent handle to make accurate measurement of the orbital parameters and thus also evolution of the binray orbits that take place over time scale of a fraction of a million years to tens of millions of years. The orbital period evolution of X-ray binaries have shown them to be rather complex systems. Orbital evolution of X-ray binaries can also be carried out from timing of the X-ray eclipses and there have been some surprising results in that direction, including orbital period glitches in two X-ray binaries and possible detection of the most massive circum-binary planet around a Low Mass X-ray Binary.

    • A New Look at Distances and Velocities of Neutron Stars

      Frank Verbunt Eric Cator

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      We take a fresh look at the determination of distances and velocities of neutron stars. The conversion of a parallax measurement into a distance, or distance probability distribution, has led to a debate quite similar to the one involving Cepheids, centering on the question whether priors can be used when discussing a single system. With the example of PSR J0218+4232, we show that a prior is necessary to determine the probability distribution for the distance. The distance of this pulsar implies a gamma-ray luminosity larger than 10% of its spindown luminosity. For velocities, the debate is whether a single Maxwellian describes the distribution for young pulsars. By limiting our discussion to accurate (VLBI) measurements we argue that a description with two Maxwellians, with distribution parameters $\sigma _1=77$ and $\sigma _2=320$ km/s, is significantly better. Corrections for galactic rotation, to derive velocities with respect to the local standards of rest, are insignificant.

    • Magnetorotational and Tayler Instabilities in the Pulsar Magnetosphere

      Vadim Urpin

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      The magnetospheres around neutron stars should be very particular because of their strong magnetic field and rapid rotation. A study of the pulsar magnetospheres is of crucial importance since it is the key issue to understand how energy outflow to the exterior is produced. In this paper, we discuss magnetohydrodynamic processes in the pulsar magnetosphere. We consider in detail the properties of magnetohydrodynamic waves that can exist in the magnetosphere and their instabilities. These instabilities lead to formation of magnetic structures and can be responsible for short-term variability of the pulsar emission.

    • Millisecond Pulsars, their Evolution and Applications

      R. N. Manchester

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      Millisecond pulsars (MSPs) are short-period pulsars that are distinguished from “normal” pulsars, not only by their short period, but also by their very small spin-down rates and high probability of being in a binary system. These properties are consistent with MSPs having a different evolutionary history to normal pulsars, viz., neutron-star formation in an evolving binary system and spin-up due to accretion from the binary companion. Their very stable periods make MSPs nearly ideal probes of a wide variety of astrophysical phenomena. For example, they have been used to detect planets around pulsars, to test the accuracy of gravitational theories, to set limits on the low-frequency gravitational-wave background in the Universe, and to establish pulsar-based timescales that rival the best atomic-clock timescales in long-term stability. MSPs also provide a window into stellar and binary evolution, often suggesting exotic pathways to the observed systems. The X-ray accretion-powered MSPs, and especially those that transition between an accreting X-ray MSP and a non-accreting radio MSP, give important insight into the physics of accretion on to highly magnetized neutron stars.

    • Superfluidity and Superconductivity in Neutron Stars

      N. Chamel

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      Neutron stars, the compact stellar remnants of core-collapse supernova explosions, are unique cosmic laboratories for exploring novel phases of matter under extreme conditions. In particular, the occurrence of superfluidity and superconductivity in neutron stars will be briefly reviewed.

    • Flux-Vortex Pinning and Neutron Star Evolution

      M. Ali Alpar

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      G. Srinivasan et al. (1990) proposed a simple and elegant explanation for the reduction of the neutron star magnetic dipole moment during binary evolution leading to low mass X-ray binaries and eventually to millisecond pulsars: Quantized vortex lines in the neutron star core superfluid will pin against the quantized flux lines of the proton superconductor. As the neutron star spins down in the wind accretion phase of binary evolution, outward motion of vortex lines will reduce the dipole magnetic moment in proportion to the rotation rate. The presence of a toroidal array of flux lines makes this mechanism inevitable and independent of the angle between the rotation and magnetic axes. The incompressibility of the flux-line array (Abrikosov lattice) determines the epoch when the mechanism will be effective throughout the neutron star. Flux vortex pinning will not be effective during the initial young radio pulsar phase. It will, however, be effective and reduce the dipole moment in proportion with the rotation rate during the epoch of spindown by wind accretion as proposed by Srinivasan et al. The mechanism operates also in the presence of vortex creep.

    • Formation of Double Neutron Stars, Millisecond Pulsars and Double Black Holes

      Edward P. J. Van Den Heuvel

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      The 1982 model for the formation of Hulse–Taylor binary radio pulsar PSR B1913+16 is described, which since has become the ‘standard model’ for the formation of the double neutron stars, confirmed by the 2003 discovery of the double pulsar system PSR J0737-3039AB. A brief overview is given of the present status of our knowledge of the double neutron stars, of which 15 systems are presently known. The binary-recycling model for the formation of millisecond pulsars is described, as put forward independently by Alpar et al. (1982), Radhakrishnan & Srinivasan (1982) and Fabian et al. (1983). This now is the ‘standard model’ for the formation of these objects, confirmed by the discovery in 1998 of the accreting millisecond X-ray pulsars. It is noticed that the formation process of close double black holes has analogies to that of close double neutron stars, extended to binaries with larger initial component masses, although there are also considerable differences in the physics of the binary evolution at these larger masses.

    • Magneto–Thermal Evolution of Neutron Stars with Emphasis to Radio Pulsars

      U. Geppert

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      The magnetic and thermal evolution of neutron stars is a very complex process with many non-linear interactions. For a decent understanding of neutron star physics, these evolutions cannot be considered isolated. A brief overview is presented, which describes the main magneto–thermal interactions that determine the fate of both isolated neutron stars and accreting ones. Special attention is devoted to the interplay of thermal and magnetic evolution at the polar cap of radio pulsars. There, a strong meridional temperature gradient is maintained over the lifetime of radio pulsars. It may be strong enough to drive thermoelectric magnetic field creation which perpetuate a toroidal magnetic field around the polar cap rim. Such a local field component may amplify and curve the poloidal surface field at the cap, forming a strong and small scale magnetic field as required for the radio emission of pulsars.

    • Magnetic Fields of Neutron Stars

      Sushan Konar

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      This article briefly reviews our current understanding of the evolution of magnetic fields in neutron stars, which basically defines the evolutionary pathways between different observational classes of neutron stars. The emphasis here is on the evolution in binary systems and the newly emergent classes of millisecond pulsars.

    • Revisiting Field Burial by Accretion onto Neutron Stars

      Dipanjan Mukherjee

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      The surface magnetic field strength of millisecond pulsars (MSPs) is found to be about 4 orders of magnitude lower than that of garden variety radio pulsars (with a spin of ${\sim }$0.5–5 s and $B{\sim }10^{12}\hbox { G}$). The exact mechanism of the apparent reduction of field strength in MSPs is still a subject of debate. One of the proposed mechanisms is burial of the surface magnetic field under matter accreted from a companion. In this article we review the recent work on magnetic confinement of accreted matter on neutron stars poles. We present the solutions of the magneto-static equations with a more accurate equation of state of the magnetically confined plasma and discuss its implications for the field burial mechanism.

    • Cooling of Accretion-Heated Neutron Stars

      Rudy Wijnands Nathalie Degenaar Dany Page

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      We present a brief, observational review about the study of the cooling behaviour of accretion-heated neutron stars and the inferences about the neutron-star crust and core that have been obtained from these studies. Accretion of matter during outbursts can heat the crust out of thermal equilibrium with the core and after the accretion episodes are over, the crust will cool down until crust-core equilibrium is restored. We discuss the observed properties of the crust cooling sources and what has been learned about the physics of neutron-star crusts. We also briefly discuss those systems that have been observed long after their outbursts were over, i.e, during times when the crust and core are expected to be in thermal equilibrium. The surface temperature is then a direct probe for the core temperature. By comparing the expected temperatures based on estimates of the accretion history of the targets with the observed ones, the physics of neutron-star cores can be investigated. Finally, we discuss similar studies performed for strongly magnetized neutron stars in which the magnetic field might play an important role in the heating and cooling of the neutron stars.

    • Cyclotron Lines: From Magnetic Field Strength Estimators to Geometry Tracers in Neutron Stars

      Chandreyee Maitra

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      With forty years since the discovery of the first cyclotron line in Her X-1, there have been remarkable advancements in the field related to the study of the physics of accreting neutron stars – cyclotron lines have been a major torchbearer in this regard, from being the only direct estimator of the magnetic field strength, a tracer of accretion geometry and an indicator of the emission beam in these systems. The main flurry of activities have centred around studying the harmonic separations, luminosity dependence, pulse phase dependence and more recently, the shapes of the line and the trend for long-term evolution in the line energy. This article visits the important results related to cyclotron lines since its discovery and reviews their significance. An emphasis is laid on pulse phase resolved spectroscopy and the important clues a joint timing and spectral study in this context can provide, to build a complete picture for the physics of accretion and hence X-ray emission in accreting neutron stars.

    • Observing Compact Stars with AstroSat

      Dipankar Bhattacharya

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      This article presents a brief description of India’s AstroSat mission which is a powerful space based observatory for compact star research. An account is given of observational constraints and spectral and timing capabilities as realised post-launch. Some preliminary results of observations of the Crab pulsar and an X-ray binary system GX 301-2 are presented to illustrate some of the capabilities of the mission.

    • Nature of Coherent Radio Emission from Pulsars

      Dipanjan Mitra

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      The pulsar radio emission originates from regions below 10% of the light cylinder radius. This requires a mechanism where coherent emission is excited in relativistic pair plasma with frequency $\nu _{\mathrm{cr}}$ which is below the plasma frequency $\nu _{\circ }$ i.e. $\nu _{\mathrm{cr}}$ < $\nu _{\circ }$. A possible model for the emission mechanism is charged bunches (charged solitons) moving relativistically along the curved open dipolar magnetic field lines capable of exciting coherent curvature radio emission. In this article, we review the results from high quality observations in conjunction with theoretical models to unravel the nature of coherent curvature radio emission in pulsars.

    • Nulling, Mode-Changing and Drifting Subpulses in the Highly Asymmetric Conal Quadruple Radio Pulsar B2034+19

      Joanna M. Rankin

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      Radio pulsar B2034+19 exhibits all three ‘canonical’ pulse-sequence phenomena—that is, pulse nulling, two distinct profile modes and subpulses with periodic modulation. Indeed, the bursts and nulls in the pulsar are short at several score pulses and quasi-periodic such that about 1/3 of the pulses are nulls. The pulsar’s two modes have very different characteristics, the first shows emission almost completely confined to the leading half of the profile and highly modulated in a 2-period odd–even manner; whereas the second mode illuminates both the leading and trailing parts of the star’s profile about equally with the appearance of drift bands at about a 3-period separation. The second mode occurs much less frequently than the first (about 15% of the time) and thus the leading part of the profile has a much larger average intensity than the trailing part. B2034+19 represents an interesting example of a pulsar with emission primarily in the leading part of its profile window with only occasional illumination in the trailing part. This suggests that there are pulsars that perhaps never emit in a part of their profile window, connecting with earlier work on pulsars with apparent ‘partial cone’ profiles.

    • The Radio and X-ray Mode-Switching Pulsar PSR B0943+10

      Sandro Mereghetti Michela Rigoselli

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      Observations obtained in the last years challenged the widespread notion that rotation-powered neutron stars are steady X-ray emitters. Besides a few allegedly rotation-powered neutron stars that showed ‘magnetar-like’ variability, a particularly interesting case is that of PSR B0943+10. Recent observations have shown that this pulsar, well studied in the radio band where it alternates between a bright and a quiescent mode, displays significant X-ray variations, anticorrelated in flux with the radio emission. The study of such synchronous radio/X-ray mode switching opens a new window to investigate the processes responsible for the pulsar radio and high-energy emission. Here we review the main X-ray properties of PSR B0943+10 derived from recent coordinated X-ray and radio observations.

    • Fast Radio Bursts

      Akshaya Rane Duncan Lorimer

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      We summarize our current state of knowledge of fast radio bursts (FRBs) which were first discovered a decade ago. Following an introduction to radio transients in general, including pulsars and rotating radio transients, we discuss the discovery of FRBs. We then discuss FRB follow-up observations in the context of repeat bursts before moving on to review propagation effects on FRB signals, FRB progenitor models and an outlook on FRBs as potential cosmological tools.

    • Radio Afterglows of Gamma Ray Bursts

      Lekshmi Resmi

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      This review focuses on the physics of Gamma Ray Bursts probed through their radio afterglow emission. Even though radio band is the least explored of the afterglow spectrum, it has played an important role in the progress of GRB physics, specifically in confirming the hypothesized relativistic effects. Currently radio astronomy is in the beginning of a revolution. The high sensitive Square Kilometer Array (SKA) is being planned, its precursors and pathfinders are about to be operational, and several existing instruments are undergoing upgradation. Thus, the afterglow results from detection statistics and follow up programs are expected to improve in the coming years. We list a few avenues unique to radio band which if explored to full potential have the promise to greatly contribute to the future of GRB physics.

    • Classical Orbital Paramagnetism in Non-equilibrium Steady State

      Avinash A. Deshpande N. Kumar

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      We report the results of our numerical simulation of classical-dissipative dynamics of a charged particle subjected to a non-Markovian stochastic forcing. We find that the system develops a steady-state orbital magnetic moment in the presence of a static magnetic field. Very significantly, the sign of the orbital magnetic moment turns out to be paramagnetic for our choice of parameters, varied over a wide range. This is shown specifically for the case of classical dynamics driven by a Kubo–Anderson type non-Markovian noise. Natural spatial boundary condition was imposed through (1) a soft (harmonic) confining potential, and (2) a hard potential, approximating a reflecting wall. There was no noticeable qualitative difference. What appears to be crucial to the orbital magnetic effect noticed here is the non-Markovian property of the driving noise chosen. Experimental realization of this effect on the laboratory scale, and its possible implications are briefly discussed. We would like to emphasize that the above steady-state classical orbital paramagnetic moment complements, rather than contradicts the Bohr–van Leeuwen (BvL) theorem on the absence of classical orbital diamagnetism in thermodynamic equilibrium.

    • Whispers from the Edge of Physics

      Nils Andersson

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      Neutron stars involve extreme physics which is difficult (perhaps impossible) to explore in laboratory experiments. We have to turn to astrophysical observations, and try to extract information from the entire range of the electromagnetic spectrum. In addition, neutron stars may radiate gravitational waves through a range of scenarios. This brief summary outlines some of the main ideas, focussing on what we do and do not know, and the challenges involved in trying to catch these faint whispers from the very edge of physics are described.

  • Journal of Astrophysics and Astronomy | News

    • Continuous Article Publication

      Posted on January 27, 2016

      Since January 2016, the Journal of Astrophysics and Astronomy has moved to Continuous Article Publishing (CAP) mode. This means that each accepted article is being published immediately online with DOI and article citation ID with starting page number 1. Articles are also visible in Web of Science immediately. All these have helped shorten the publication time and have improved the visibility of the articles.

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