Journal Article

Bondi–Hoyle accretion on to a magnetized neutron star

O. D. Toropina, M. M. Romanova and R. V. E. Lovelace

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 420, issue 1, pages 810-816
Published in print February 2012 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online January 2012 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Bondi–Hoyle accretion on to a magnetized neutron star

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Axisymmetric magnetohydrodynamic simulations are used to investigate the Bondi–Hoyle accretion on to an isolated magnetized neutron star moving supersonically (with a Mach number of 3) through the interstellar medium. The star is assumed to have a dipole magnetic field aligned with its motion and a magnetospheric radius Rm less than the accretion radius RBH, so that the gravitational focusing is important. We find that the accretion rate to a magnetized star is smaller than that to a non-magnetized star for the parameters considered. Close to the star the accreting matter falls to the star’s surface along the magnetic poles with a larger mass flow to the leeward pole of the star. In the case of a relatively large stellar magnetic field, the star’s magnetic field is stretched in the direction of the matter flow outside of Rm (towards the windward side of the star). For weaker magnetic fields we observed oscillations of the closed magnetosphere frontward and backward. These are accompanied by strong oscillations of the mass accretion rate which varies by factors of ∼3. Old slowly rotating neutron stars with no radio emission may be visible in the X-ray band due to accretion of interstellar matter. In general, the star’s velocity, magnetic moment and angular velocity vectors may all be in different directions so that the accretion luminosity will be modulated at the star’s rotation rate.

Keywords: accretion, accretion discs; magnetic fields; MHD

Journal Article.  3778 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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