Journal Article

Do superfluid instabilities prevent neutron star precession?

K. Glampedakis, N. Andersson and D. I. Jones

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 394, issue 4, pages 1908-1924
Published in print April 2009 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online April 2009 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Do superfluid instabilities prevent neutron star precession?

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We discuss short wavelength (inertial wave) instabilities present in the standard two-fluid neutron star model when there is sufficient relative flow along the superfluid neutron vortex array. We demonstrate that these instabilities may be triggered in precessing neutron stars, since the angular velocity vectors of the neutron and proton fluids are misaligned during precession. Our results suggest that the standard (Eulerian) slow precession that results for weak drag between the vortices and the charged fluid (protons and electrons) is not seriously affected by the instability. In contrast, the fast precession, which results when vortices are strongly coupled to the charged component, is generally unstable. The presence of this instability renders the standard (solid body) rotation model for free precession inconsistent and makes unsafe conclusions that have recently been drawn regarding neutron star interiors based on observations of precession in radio pulsars.

Keywords: dense matter; instabilities; stellar dynamics; stars: neutron; stars: oscillations; pulsars: general

Journal Article.  12360 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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