Three-dimensional Instability of Flame Fronts in Type i X-Ray Bursts

Yuri Cavecchi, Anatoly Spitkovsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


We present the first realistic 3D simulations of flame front instabilities during type I X-ray bursts. The unperturbed front is characterized by the balance between the pressure gradient and the Coriolis force of a spinning neutron star (ν = 450 Hz in our case). This balance leads to a fast horizontal velocity field parallel to the flame front. This flow is strongly sheared in the vertical direction. When we perturb the front an instability quickly corrugates the front. We identify this instability as the baroclinic instability. Most importantly, the flame is not disrupted by the instability and there are two major consequences: The overall flame propagation speed is ∼10 times faster than in the unperturbed case and distinct flame vortices appear. The speedup is due to the corrugation of the front and the dynamics of the vortices. These vortices may also be linked to the oscillations observed in the light curves of the bursts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number142
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 10 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Hydrodynamics-instabilities-methods: Numerical-stars: Neutron-X-rays: Bursts


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