Deep crustal heating by neutrinos from the surface of accreting neutron stars

F. J. Fattoyev, Edward F. Brown, Andrew Cumming, Alex Deibel, C. J. Horowitz, Bao An Li, Zidu Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


We present a new mechanism for deep crustal heating in accreting neutron stars. Charged pions (π+) are produced in nuclear collisions on the neutron star surface during active accretion and upon decay they provide a flux of neutrinos into the neutron star crust. For massive and/or compact neutron stars, neutrinos deposit ≈1-2MeV of heat per accreted nucleon into the inner crust. The strength of neutrino heating is comparable to the previously known sources of deep crustal heating, such as from pycnonuclear fusion reactions, and is relevant for studies of cooling neutron stars. We model the thermal evolution of a transient neutron star in a low-mass x-ray binary, and in the particular case of the neutron star MXB 1659-29 we show that additional deep crustal heating requires a higher thermal conductivity for the neutron star inner crust. A better knowledge of pion-production cross sections near threshold would improve the accuracy of our predictions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number025801
JournalPhysical Review C
Issue number2
StatePublished - 13 Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Physical Society.


We thank Professors Hans-Otto Meyer, Hendrik Schatz, and Rex Tayloe for many helpful discussions. F.J.F., C.J.H., and Z.L. are supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Grants No. DE-FG02-87ER40365 (Indiana University), No. DE-SC0018083 (NUCLEI SciDAC-4 Collaboration), and by the National Science Foundation through XSEDE resources provided by the National Institute for Computational Sciences under Grant No. TG-AST100014. E.F.B. is supported by the US National Science Foundation under Grant No. AST-1516969. A.C. is supported by an NSERC Discovery Grant and is a member of the Centre de Recherche en Astrophysique du Quebec (CRAQ). B.A.L. is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, under Award No. DE-SC0013702 (Texas A&M University-Commerce) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China under Grant No. 11320101004.

FundersFunder number
National Institute for Computational Sciences
US National Science Foundation
National Science Foundation
U.S. Department of EnergyDE-SC0018083
Office of ScienceDE-SC0013702
Texas A and M University-Commerce
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
National Natural Science Foundation of China11320101004


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