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Magnetar Giant Flares --- Flux Rope Eruptions in Multipolar Magnetospheric Magnetic Fields  [PDF]
Cong Yu
Physics , 2012, DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/757/1/67
Abstract: We address a primary question regarding the physical mechanism that triggers the energy release and initiates the onset of eruptions in the magnetar magnetosphere. A self-consistent stationary, axisymmetric model of the magnetar magnetosphere is constructed based on a force-free magnetic field configuration which contains a helically twisted force-free flux rope. Given the complex multipolar magnetic fields at the magnetar surface, we also develop a convenient numerical scheme to solve the GS equation. Depending on the surface magnetic field polarity, there exist two kinds of magnetic field configurations, inverse and normal. For these two kinds of configurations, variations of the flux rope equilibrium height in response to gradual surface physical processes, such as flux injections and crust motions, are carefully examined. We find that equilibrium curves contain two branches, one represents a stable equilibrium branch, the other an unstable equilibrium branch. As a result, the evolution of the system shows a catastrophic behavior: when the magnetar surface magnetic field evolves slowly, the height of flux rope would gradually reach a critical value beyond which stable equilibriums can no longer be maintained. Subsequently the flux rope would lose equilibrium and the gradual quasi-static evolution of the magnetar magnetosphere will be replaced by a fast dynamical evolution. In addition to flux injections, the relative motion of active regions would give rise to the catastrophic behavior and lead to magnetic eruptions as well. We propose that a gradual process could lead to a sudden release of magnetosphere energy on a very short dynamical timescale, without being initiated by a sudden fracture in the crust of the magnetar. Some implications of our model are also discussed.
Producing Magnetar Magnetic Fields in the Merger of Binary Neutron Stars  [PDF]
Bruno Giacomazzo,Jonathan Zrake,Paul Duffell,Andrew I. MacFadyen,Rosalba Perna
Physics , 2014, DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/809/1/39
Abstract: The merger of binary neutron stars (BNSs) can lead to large amplifications of the magnetic field due to the development of turbulence and instabilities in the fluid, such as the Kelvin-Helmholtz shear instability, which drive small-scale dynamo activity. In order to properly resolve such instabilities and obtain the correct magnetic field amplification, one would need to employ resolutions that are currently unfeasible in global general relativistic magnetohydrodynamic (GRMHD) simulations of BNS mergers. Here, we present a subgrid model that allows global simulations to take into account the small-scale amplification of the magnetic field which is caused by the development of turbulence during BNS mergers. Assuming dynamo saturation, we show that magnetar-level fields ($\sim 10^{16}\,{\rm G}$) can be easily reached, and should therefore be expected from the merger of magnetized BNSs. The total magnetic energy can reach values up to $\sim 10^{51}\,{\rm erg}$ and the post-merger remnant can therefore emit strong electromagnetic signals and possibly produce short gamma-ray bursts.
Magnetar Giant Flares in Multipolar Magnetic Fields --- I. Fully and Partially Open Eruptions of Flux Ropes  [PDF]
Lei Huang,Cong Yu
Physics , 2014, DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/784/2/168
Abstract: We propose a catastrophic eruption model for magnetar's enormous energy release during giant flares, in which a toroidal and helically twisted flux rope is embedded within a force-free magnetosphere. The flux rope stays in stable equilibrium states initially and evolves quasi-statically. Upon the loss of equilibrium point is reached, the flux rope cannot sustain the stable equilibrium states and erupts catastrophically. During the process, the magnetic energy stored in the magnetosphere is rapidly released as the result of destabilization of global magnetic topology. The magnetospheric energy that could be accumulated is of vital importance for the outbursts of magnetars. We carefully establish the fully open fields and partially open fields for various boundary conditions at the magnetar surface and study the relevant energy thresholds. By investigating the magnetic energy accumulated at the critical catastrophic point, we find that it is possible to drive fully open eruptions for dipole dominated background fields. Nevertheless, it is hard to generate fully open magnetic eruptions for multipolar background fields. Given the observational importance of the multipolar magnetic fields in the vicinity of the magnetar surface, it would be worthwhile to explore the possibility of the alternative eruption approach in multipolar background fields. Fortunately, we find that flux ropes may give rise to partially open eruptions in the multipolar fields, which involve only partial opening up of background fields. The energy release fractions are greater for cases with central-arcaded multipoles than those with central-caved multipoles emerged in background fields. Eruptions would fail only when the centrally-caved multipoles become extremely strong.
Magnetar Giant Flares in Multipolar Magnetic Fields --- II. Flux Rope Eruptions With Current Sheets  [PDF]
Lei Huang,Cong Yu
Physics , 2014, DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/796/1/3
Abstract: We propose a physical mechanism to explain giant flares and radio afterglows in terms of a magnetospheric model containing both a helically twisted flux rope and a current sheet (CS). With the appearance of CS, we solve a mixed boundary value problem to get the magnetospheric field based on a domain decomposition method. We investigate properties of the equilibrium curve of the flux rope when the CS is present in background multipolar fields. In response to the variations at the magnetar surface, it quasi-statically evolves in stable equilibrium states. The loss of equilibrium occurs at a critical point and, beyond that point, it erupts catastrophically. New features show up when the CS is considered. Especially, we find two kinds of physical behaviors, i.e., catastrophic state transition and catastrophic escape. Magnetic energy would be released during state transitions. The released magnetic energy is sufficient to drive giant flares. The flux rope would go away from the magnetar quasi-statically, which is inconsistent with the radio afterglow. Fortunately, in the latter case, i.e., the catastrophic escape, the flux rope could escape the magnetar and go to infinity in a dynamical way. This is more consistent with radio afterglow observations of giant flares. We find that the minor radius of flux rope has important implications for its eruption. Flux ropes with larger minor radius are more prone to erupt. We stress that the CS provides an ideal place for magnetic reconnection, which would further enhance the energy release during eruptions.
Nuclear structure in strong magnetic fields: nuclei in the crust of a magnetar  [PDF]
Daniel Pena Arteaga,Marcella Grasso,Elias Khan,Peter Ring
Physics , 2011, DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevC.84.045806
Abstract: Covariant density functional theory is used to study the effect of strong magnetic fields, up to the limit predicted for neutron stars (for magnetars $B \approx10^{18}$G), on nuclear structure. All new terms in the equation of motion resulting from time reversal symmetry breaking by the magnetic field and the induced currents, as well as axial deformation, are taken into account in a self-consistent fashion. For nuclei in the iron region of the nuclear chart it is found that fields in the order of magnitude of $10^{17}$G significantly affect bulk properties like masses and radii.
What Magnetar Seismology can Teach us about the Magnetic Fields  [PDF]
R. Shaisultanov,D. Eichler
Physics , 2009, DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/702/1/L23
Abstract: The effect of magnetic fields on the frequencies of toroidal oscillations of neutron stars is derived to lowest order. Interpreting the fine structure in the QPO power spectrum of magnetars following giant flares reported by Strohmayer and Watts (2006) to be "Zeeman splitting" of degenerate toroidal modes, we estimate a crustal magnetic field of order 10^{15} Gauss or more. We suggest that residual m, -m symmetry following such splitting might allow beating of individual frequency components that is slow enough to be observed.
AXPs & SGRs: Magnetar or Quarctar?  [PDF]
Guojun Qiao,Xiongwei Liu,Renxin Xu,Yuanjie Du,Jinlin Han,Hao Tong,Hongguang Wang
Physics , 2012, DOI: 10.1017/S1743921312024568
Abstract: The concept of a "magnetar" was proposed mainly because of two factors. First, the X-ray luminosity of Anomalous X-ray Pulsars (AXPs) and Soft Gamma-Ray Repeaters (SGRs) is larger than the rotational energy loss rate, and second, the magnetic field strength calculated from "normal method" is super strong. It is proposed that the radiation energy of magnetar comes from its magnetic fields. Here it is argued that the magnetic field strength calculated through the normal method is incorrect when X-ray luminosity is larger than rotational energy loss rate, because the wind braking is not taken into account. Besides, the "anti-magnetar" and some other X-ray and radio observations are difficult to understand with a magnetar model. Instead of the magnetar, we propose a "quarctar", which is a crusted quark star in an accretion disk, to explain the observations. In this model, the persistent X-ray emission, burst luminosity, spectrum of AXPs and SGRs can be understood naturally. The radio-emitting AXPs, which are challenging the magnetar, can also be explained by the quarctar model.
The Diversity of Transients from Magnetar Birth  [PDF]
Brian D. Metzger,Ben Margalit,Daniel Kasen,Eliot Quataert
Physics , 2015,
Abstract: Strongly-magnetized, rapidly-rotating neutron stars are contenders for the central engines of both long-duration gamma-ray bursts (LGRBs) and hydrogen-poor super-luminous supernovae (SLSNe-I). Models for typical (~minute long) LGRBs invoke magnetars with high dipole magnetic fields (Bd > 1e15 G) and short spin-down times, while models for SLSNe-I invoke neutron stars with weaker fields and longer spin-down times of weeks. Here we identify a transition region in the space of Bd and birth period for which a magnetar can power both a long GRB and a luminous SN. In particular, we show that a 2 ms period magnetar with a spin-down time of ~1e4 s can explain the observations of both the ultra-long GRB 111209 and its associated luminous SN2011kl. For magnetars with longer spin down times, we predict even longer duration (~1e6 s) GRBs and brighter supernovae, a correlation that extends to Swift J2058+05 (commonly interpreted as a tidal disruption event). We further show that previous estimates of the maximum rotational energy of a proto-magnetar were too conservative and energies up to Emax ~1-2e53 erg are possible. The magnetar model can therefore comfortably accommodate the extreme energy requirements recently posed by the most luminous supernova ASASSN-15lh. The high ionization flux from a pulsar wind nebula powering ASASSN-15lh may lead to an "ionization break-out" X-ray burst over the coming months, which would be accompanied by an abrupt change in the optical spectrum. We conclude by briefly contrasting millisecond magnetar and black hole models for SLSNe and ultra-long GRBs.
Implications of magnetar non-precession  [PDF]
K. Glampedakis,D. I. Jones
Physics , 2010, DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-3933.2010.00846.x
Abstract: The objects known as anomalous X-ray pulsars and soft gamma repeaters are commonly identified with magnetars, neutron stars with ultrastrong magnetic fields. The rotational history of these objects has, so far, revealed no evidence of free precession. At the same time these objects do not generally appear to have magnetic axes nearly parallel or orthogonal to their spin axes. In this paper we show that the combination of these two observations, together with simple rigid-body dynamics, leads to non-trivial predictions about the interior properties of magnetars: either (i) elastic stresses in magnetar crusts are close to the theoretical upper limit above which the crustal matter yields or (ii) there is a "pinned" superfluid component in the magnetar interior. As a potentially observable consequence of these ideas we point out that, in the case of no pinned superfluidity, magnetars of stronger magnetic field strength than those currently observed would have to be nearly aligned/orthogonal rotators.
Magnetic Energy Buildup for Relativistic Magnetar Giant Flares  [PDF]
Cong Yu
Physics , 2011, DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/738/1/75
Abstract: Motivated by coronal mass ejection studies, we construct general relativistic models of a magnetar magnetosphere endowed with strong magnetic fields. The equilibrium states of the stationary, axisymmetric magnetic fields in the magnetar magnetosphere are obtained as solutions of the Grad-Shafranov equation in a Schwarzschild spacetime. To understand the magnetic energy buildup in the magnetar magnetosphere, a generalized magnetic virial theorem in the Schwarzschild metric is newly derived. We carefully address the question whether the magnetar magnetospheric magnetic field can build up sufficient magnetic energy to account for the work required to open up the magnetic field during magnetar giant flares. We point out the importance of the Aly-Sturrock constraint, which has been widely studied in solar corona mass ejections, as a reference state in understanding magnetar energy storage processes. We examine how the magnetic field can possess enough energy to overcome the Aly-Sturrock energy constraint and open up. In particular, general relativistic (GR) effects on the Aly-Sturrock energy constraint in the Schwarzschild spacetime are carefully investigated. It is found that, for magnetar outbursts, the Aly-Sturrock constraint is more stringent, i.e., the Aly-Sturrock energy threshold is enhanced due to the GR effects. In addition, neutron stars with greater mass have a higher Aly-Sturrock energy threshold and are more difficult to erupt. This indicates that magnetars are probably not neutron stars with extreme mass. For a typical neutron star with mass of $1-2 M_{\odot}$, we further explore the effects of cross-field current effects, caused by the mass loading, on the possibility of stored magnetic field energy exceeding the Aly-Sturrock threshold.
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