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Anisotropic thermal emission from magnetized neutron stars. (English) Zbl 1129.85302
Summary: The thermal emission from isolated neutron stars is not well understood. The X-ray spectrum is very close to a blackbody but there is a systematic optical excess flux with respect to the extrapolation to low energy of the best blackbody fit. This fact, in combination with the observed pulsations in the X-ray flux, can be explained by anisotropies in the surface temperature distribution.
We study the thermal emission from neutron stars with strong magnetic fields \(B\geq 10^{13}\) G in order to explain the origin of the anisotropy. We find (numerically) stationary solutions in axial symmetry of the heat transport equations in the neutron star crust and the condensed envelope. The anisotropy in the conductivity tensor is included consistently.
The presence of magnetic fields of the expected strength leads to anisotropy in the surface temperature. Models with toroidal components similar to or larger than the poloidal field reproduce qualitatively the observed spectral properties and variability of isolated neutron stars. Our models also predict spectral features at energies between 0.2 and 0.6 keV for \(B = 10^{13}-10^{14}\).
MSC:
85A15 Galactic and stellar structure
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