Neutron drip transition in accreting and nonaccreting neutron star crusts [HEAP]

The neutron-drip transition in the dense matter constituting the interior of neutron stars generally refers to the appearance of unbound neutrons as the matter density reaches some threshold density $\rho_\textrm{drip}$. This transition has been mainly studied under the cold catalyzed matter hypothesis. However, this assumption is unrealistic for accreting neutron stars. After examining the physical processes that are thought to be allowed in both accreting and nonaccreting neutron stars, suitable conditions for the onset of neutron drip are derived and general analytical expressions for the neutron drip density and pressure are obtained. Moreover, we show that the neutron-drip transition occurs at lower density and pressure than those predicted within the mean-nucleus approximation. This transition is studied numerically for various initial composition of the ashes from X-ray bursts and superbursts using microscopic nuclear mass models.

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N. Chamel, A. Fantina, J. Zdunik, et. al.
Mon, 20 Apr 15

Comments: 24 pages, accepted for publication in Physical Review C