Magnetic energy production by turbulence in binary neutron star mergers

Jonathan Zrake, Andrew I. MacFadyen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The simultaneous detection of electromagnetic and gravitational wave emission from merging neutron star binaries would greatly aid in their discovery and interpretation. By studying turbulent amplification of magnetic fields in local high-resolution simulations of neutron star merger conditions, we demonstrate that magnetar-level (≳ 1016 G) fields are present throughout the merger duration. We find that the small-scale turbulent dynamo converts 60% of the randomized kinetic energy into magnetic fields on a merger timescale. Since turbulent magnetic energy dissipates through reconnection events that accelerate relativistic electrons, turbulence may facilitate the conversion of orbital kinetic energy into radiation. If 10-4 of the ∼1053 erg of orbital kinetic available gets processed through reconnection and creates radiation in the 15-150 keV band, then the fluence at 200 Mpc would be 10-7 erg cm-2, potentially rendering most merging neutron stars in the advanced LIGO and Virgo detection volumes detectable by Swift BAT.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article numberL29
    JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Jun 1 2013


    • Turbulence
    • X-rays: general
    • gamma-ray burst: general
    • gravitational waves
    • magnetohydrodynamics (MHD)
    • stars: neutron

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Astronomy and Astrophysics
    • Space and Planetary Science


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