Helium detonations on neutron stars

M. Zingale, F. X. Timmes, B. Fryxell, D. Q. Lamb, K. Olson, A. C. Calder, L. J. Dursi, P. Ricker, R. Rosner, P. MacNeice, H. M. Tufo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

42 Scopus citations

Abstract

We present the results of a numerical study of helium detonations on the surfaces of neutron stars. We describe two-dimensional simulations of the evolution of a detonation as it breaks through the accreted envelope of the neutron star and propagates laterally through the accreted material. The detonation front propagates laterally at nearly the Chapman-Jouguet velocity, v = 1.3 × 109 cm s-1. A series of surface waves propagate across the pool of hot ash behind the detonation front with the same speed, matching the speed expected from shallow water wave theory. The entire envelope oscillates in the gravitational potential well of the neutron star with a period of ∼50 μs. The photosphere reaches an estimated height of 10 km above the surface of the neutron star. Our study confirms that such a detonation can insure the spread of burning over the entire neutron star surface on a timescale consistent with burst rise times. We analyze the sensitivity of the results to the spatial resolution and the assumed initial conditions. We conclude by presenting a comparison of this model to type I X-ray bursts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-220
Number of pages26
JournalAstrophysical Journal, Supplement Series
Volume133
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2001
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Hydrodynamics
  • Nuclear reactions, nucleosynthesis, abundances
  • Stars: neutron
  • X-rays: bursts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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    Zingale, M., Timmes, F. X., Fryxell, B., Lamb, D. Q., Olson, K., Calder, A. C., Dursi, L. J., Ricker, P., Rosner, R., MacNeice, P., & Tufo, H. M. (2001). Helium detonations on neutron stars. Astrophysical Journal, Supplement Series, 133(1), 195-220. https://doi.org/10.1086/319182