AlbaNova and Nordita Colloquium

Multifaceted neutron stars

by Andrei Beloborodov (Columbia University)

Neutron stars are compact remnants of supernova explosions. They have radii of 11-13 km and masses comparable to that of the sun. One could expect neutron stars to be quiet, dead remnants of stellar evolution. Instead, they happen to produce most spectacular, extreme radiative phenomena. This talk will give a broad overview of neutron star activity and recent progress in understanding its mechanisms. Neutron stars generate powerful beams of coherent radio waves, pulsed high-energy gamma-rays, relativistic electron-positron winds, and giant X-ray flares. Some neutron stars live in binary systems and eventually merge, emitting strong gravitational waves and creating explosions observed from cosmological distances. Recent observational discoveries will be discussed, including the exciting detection of gravitational waves from a neutron star merger and its electromagnetic counterpart.