Outflows from accretion discs formed in neutron star mergers: Effect of black hole spin

Rodrigo Fernández, Daniel Kasen, Brian D. Metzger, Eliot Quataert

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114 Scopus citations


The accretion disc that forms after a neutron star merger is a source of neutron-rich ejecta. The ejected material contributes to a radioactively powered electromagnetic transient, with properties that depend sensitively on the composition of the outflow. Here, we investigate how the spin of the black hole (BH) remnant influences mass ejection on the thermal and viscous time-scales. We carry out two-dimensional, time-dependent hydrodynamic simulations of merger remnant accretion discs including viscous angular momentum transport and approximate neutrino self-irradiation. The gravity of the spinning BH is included via a pseudo-Newtonian potential. We find that a disc around a spinning BH ejects more mass, up to a factor of several, relative to the non-spinning case. The enhanced mass-loss is due to energy release by accretion occurring deeper in the gravitational potential, raising the disc temperature and hence the rate of viscous heating in regions where neutrino cooling is ineffective. The mean electron fraction of the outflow increases moderately with BH spin due to a highly irradiated (though not neutrino-driven) wind component. While the bulk of the ejecta is still very neutron-rich, thus generating heavy r-process elements, the leading edge of the wind contains a small amount of Lanthanide-free material. This component can give rise to an ≲1 d blue optical 'bump' in a kilonova light curve, even in the case of prompt BH formation, which may facilitate its detection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)750-758
Number of pages9
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Accretion, accretion discs
  • Dense matter
  • Gravitational waves
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Neutrinos
  • Nuclear reactions, nucleosynthesis, abundances


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