Spin evolution of neutron stars in binary systems
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I review our understanding of the evolution of the spin periods of neutron stars in binary stellar systems, from their birth as fast, spin-powered pulsars, through their middle life as accretion-powered pulsars, upto their recycling or “rebirth” as spin-powered pulsars with relatively low magnetic fields and fast rotation. I discuss how the new-born neutron star is spun down by electromagnetic and “propeller” torques, until accretion of matter from the companion star begins, and the neutron star becomes an accretion-powered X-ray pulsar. Detailed observations of massive radio pulsar binaries like PSR 1259-63 will yield valuable information about this phase of initial spindown. I indicate how the spin of the neutron star then evolves under accretion torques during the subsequent phase as an accretion-powered pulsar. Finally, I describe how the neutron star is spun up to short periods again during the subsequent phase of recycling, with the accompanying reduction in the stellar magnetic field, the origins of which are still not completely understood.
Volume 44, 2023
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