We report an extremely rapid mechanism for magnetic field amplification during the merger of a binary neutron star system. This has implications for the production of the short class of gamma-ray bursts, which recent observations suggest may originate in such mergers. In detailed magnetohydrodynamic simulations of the merger process, the fields are amplified by Kelvin-Helmholtz instabilities beyond magnetar field strength and may therefore represent the strongest magnetic fields in the universe. The amplification occurs in the shear layer that forms between the neutron stars and on a time scale of only 1 millisecond, that is, long before the remnant can collapse into a black hole.
- Pub Date:
- May 2006
- 14 pages, 4 figures, accepted to Science. Version with high resolution figures + animations can be found at http://www.astro.ex.ac.uk/people/dprice/research/nsmag/ or http://www.faculty.iu-bremen.de/srosswog/Magnetic_NSM/