We have investigated the crustal properties of neutron stars without fallback accretion. We have calculated the chemical evolution of the neutron star crust in three different cases (a modified Urca process without the thermal influence of a crust, a thick crust and a direct Urca process with a thin crust) in order to determine the detailed composition of the envelope and atmosphere as the nuclear reactions freeze out. Using a nuclear reaction network up to technetium, we calculate the distribution of nuclei at various depths of the neutron star. The nuclear reactions quench when the cooling time-scale is shorter than the inverse of the reaction rate. Trace light elements among the calculated isotopes may have enough time to float to the surface before the layer crystallizes and form the atmosphere or envelope of the neutron star. The composition of the neutron star envelope determines the total photon flux from the surface, and the composition of the atmosphere determines the emergent spectrum. Our calculations using each of the three cooling models indicate that without accretion of fallback the neutron star atmospheres are dependent on the assumed cooling process of the neutron star. Each of the cooling methods has different elements composing the atmosphere: for the modified Urca process, the atmosphere is 28Si, the thick crust has an atmosphere of 50Cr and the thin crust has an atmosphere of 40Ca. In all the three cases, the atmospheres are composed of elements which are lighter than iron.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
- Pub Date:
- December 2009
- stars: neutron;
- pulsars: general;
- Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics
- 6 pages, 5 figures, accepted to MNRAS