TORQUE ENHANCEMENT, SPIN EQUILIBRIUM, and JET POWER from DISK-INDUCED OPENING of PULSAR MAGNETIC FIELDS

Kyle Parfrey, Anatoly Spitkovsky, Andrei M. Beloborodov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

43 Scopus citations

Abstract

The interaction of a rotating star's magnetic field with a surrounding plasma disk lies at the heart of many questions posed by neutron stars in X-ray binaries. We consider the opening of stellar magnetic flux due to differential rotation along field lines coupling the star and disk, using a simple model for the disk-opened flux, the torques exerted on the star by the magnetosphere, and the power extracted by the electromagnetic wind. We examine the conditions under which the system enters an equilibrium spin state, in which the accretion torque is instantaneously balanced by the pulsar wind torque alone. For magnetic moments, spin frequencies, and accretion rates relevant to accreting millisecond pulsars, the spin-down torque from this enhanced pulsar wind can be substantially larger than that predicted by existing models of the disk-magnetosphere interaction, and is in principle capable of maintaining spin equilibrium at frequencies less than 1 kHz. We speculate that this mechanism may account for the non-detection of frequency increases during outbursts of SAX J1808.4-3658 and XTE J1814-338, and may be generally responsible for preventing spin-up to sub-millisecond periods. If the pulsar wind is collimated by the surrounding environment, the resulting jet can satisfy the power requirements of the highly relativistic outflows from Cir X-1 and Sco X-1. In this framework, the jet power scales relatively weakly with accretion rate, , and would be suppressed at high accretion rates only if the stellar magnetic moment is sufficiently low.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number33
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume822
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Keywords

  • 7X-rays: binaries
  • accretion, accretion disks
  • magnetic fields
  • pulsars: general
  • stars: jets
  • stars: neutron

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