Journal Article

Stochastic background of gravitational waves emitted by magnetars

Stefania Marassi, Riccardo Ciolfi, Raffaella Schneider, Luigi Stella and Valeria Ferrari

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 411, issue 4, pages 2549-2557
Published in print March 2011 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online March 2011 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Stochastic background of gravitational waves emitted by magnetars

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Two classes of high-energy sources in our galaxy are believed to host magnetars, i.e. neutron stars whose emission results from the dissipation of their magnetic field. The extremely high magnetic field of magnetars distorts their shape, and causes the emission of a conspicuous gravitational wave signal if rotation is fast and takes place around a different axis than the symmetry axis of the magnetic distortion. Based on a numerical model of the cosmic star formation history, we derive the cosmological background of gravitational waves produced by magnetars, when they are very young and fast spinning. We adopt different models for the configuration and strength of the internal magnetic field (which determines the distortion) as well as different values of the external dipole field strength (which governs the spin evolution of magnetars over a wide range of parameters). We find that the expected gravitational wave background differs considerably from one model to another. The strongest signals are generated for magnetars with very intense toroidal internal fields (∼1016 G range) and external dipole fields of ∼1014, as envisaged in models aimed at explaining the properties of the 2004 December giant flare from SGR 1806−20. Such signals should be easily detectable with third-generation ground-based interferometers such as the Einstein Telescope.

Keywords: gravitational waves; stars: magnetars; galaxies: star formation; cosmology: theory

Journal Article.  6328 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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