Disordered nuclear pasta, magnetic field decay, and crust cooling in neutron stars

C. J. Horowitz, D. K. Berry, C. M. Briggs, M. E. Caplan, A. Cumming, A. S. Schneider

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127 Scopus citations


Nuclear pasta, with nonspherical shapes, is expected near the base of the crust in neutron stars. Large-scale molecular dynamics simulations of pasta show long lived topological defects that could increase electron scattering and reduce both the thermal and electrical conductivities. We model a possible low-conductivity pasta layer by increasing an impurity parameter Qimp. Predictions of light curves for the low-mass x-ray binary MXB 1659-29, assuming a large Qimp, find continued late time cooling that is consistent with Chandra observations. The electrical and thermal conductivities are likely related. Therefore, observations of late time crust cooling can provide insight on the electrical conductivity and the possible decay of neutron star magnetic fields (assuming these are supported by currents in the crust).

Original languageEnglish
Article number031102
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - 22 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes

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© 2015 American Physical Society.


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