Theoretical support for the hydrodynamic mechanism of pulsar kicks

J. Nordhaus, T. D. Brandt, Adam S. Burrows, E. Livne, C. D. Ott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


The collapse of a massive star's core, followed by a neutrino-driven, asymmetric supernova explosion, can naturally lead to pulsar recoils and neutron star kicks. Here, we present a two-dimensional, radiation-hydrodynamic simulation in which core collapse leads to significant acceleration of a fully formed, nascent neutron star via an induced, neutrino-driven explosion. During the explosion, an ∼10% anisotropy in the low-mass, high-velocity ejecta leads to recoil of the high-mass neutron star. At the end of our simulation, the neutron star has achieved a velocity of ∼150kms⊃-1 and is accelerating at ∼350kms⊃-2, but has yet to reach the ballistic regime. The recoil is due almost entirely to hydrodynamical processes, with anisotropic neutrino emission contributing less than 2% to the overall kick magnitude. Since the observed distribution of neutron star kick velocities peaks at ∼300-400kms⊃-1, recoil due to anisotropic core-collapse supernovae provides a natural, nonexotic mechanism with which to obtain neutron star kicks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103016
JournalPhysical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 30 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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