Electrodynamics of disk-accreting magnetic neutron stars

M. Coleman Miller, Frederick K. Lamb, Russell J. Hamilton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


We have investigated the electrodynamics of magnetic neutron stars accreting from Keplerian disks and the implications for particle acceleration and γ-ray emission by such systems. We argue that the particle density in the magnetospheres of such stars is larger by orders of magnitude than the Goldreich-Julian density, so that the formation of vacuum gaps is unlikely. We show that even if the star rotates slowly, electromotive forces (EMFs) of order 1015 V are produced by the interaction of plasma in the accretion disk with the magnetic field of the neutron star. The resistance of the disk-magnetosphere-star circuit is small, and hence these EMFs drive very large conduction currents. Such large currents are likely to produce magnetospheric instabilities, such as relativistic double layers and reconnection events, that can accelerate electrons or ions to very high energies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)833-835
Number of pages3
JournalAstrophysical Journal, Supplement Series
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1994


  • Acceleration of particles
  • Accretion, accretion disks
  • MHD
  • Stars: neutron

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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