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Levitating atmospheres of Eddington-luminosity neutron stars

Journal article
Authors Maciek Wielgus
Aleksander Sadowski
Włodek Kluźniak
Marek A Abramowicz
Ramesh Narayan
Published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume 458
Pages 3420-3428
ISSN 0035-8711
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Physics (GU)
Pages 3420-3428
Language en
Links doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stw548
Keywords Gravitation, Stars: Atmospheres, Stars: Neutron, X-rays: Bursts
Subject categories Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology

Abstract

© 2016 The Authors. We construct models of static, spherically symmetric shells supported by the radiation flux of a luminous neutron star in the Schwarzschild metric. The atmospheres are disconnected from the star and levitate above its surface. Gas pressure and density inversion appear in the inner region of these atmospheres, which is a purely relativistic phenomenon. We account for the scattering opacity dependence on temperature green by using the Klein-Nishina formula. The relativistic M1 closure scheme for the radiation tensor provides a general relativity-consistent treatment of the photon flux and radiation tensor anisotropy. In this way, we are able to address atmospheres of both large and moderate/low optical depths with the same set of equations. We discuss properties of the levitating atmospheres and find that they may indeed be optically thick, with the distance between star surface and the photosphere expanding as luminosity increases. These results may be relevant for the photosphereric radius expansion X-ray bursts.

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