Magnetic Topology in Coupled Binaries, Spin-orbital Resonances, and Flares

Sergey A. Cherkis, Maxim Lyutikov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


We consider topological configurations of the magnetically coupled spinning stellar binaries (e.g., merging neutron stars or interacting star-planet systems). We discuss conditions when the stellar spins and the orbital motion nearly "compensate"each other, leading to very slow overall winding of the coupled magnetic fields; slowly winding configurations allow gradual accumulation of magnetic energy, which is eventually released in a flare when the instability threshold is reached. We find that this slow winding can be global and/or local. We describe the topology of the relevant space F = T 1 S2 as the unit tangent bundle of the two-sphere and find conditions for slowly winding configurations in terms of magnetic moments, spins, and orbital momentum. These conditions become ambiguous near the topological bifurcation points; in certain cases, they also depend on the relative phases of the spin and orbital motions. In the case of merging magnetized neutron stars, if one of the stars is a millisecond pulsar, spinning at ∼10 ms, the global resonance ω 1 + ω 2 = 2Ω (spin-plus beat is two times the orbital period) occurs approximately one second before the merger; the total energy of the flare can be as large as 10% of the total magnetic energy, producing bursts of luminosity ∼1044 erg s-1. Higher order local resonances may have similar powers, since the amount of involved magnetic flux tubes may be comparable to the total connected flux.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number13
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 10 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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