Can neutron stars ablate their companions?

Amir Levinson, David Eichler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ablation of stars by energetic photons from a compact companion is considered for general parameters. It is concluded that pulsars with conventional parameters cannot ablate their companions with gamma rays at orbital separation of 3 × 1010 cm or more. It is estimated that in the absence of heat conductivity, line cooling is important when the incident radiation flux is less than 1015 ergs s-1 cm-2. It is proposed that millisecond pulsars may be able to ablate their companions more readily than in previous scenarios if even a small fraction of the kilohertz radiation is absorbed by the atmosphere/wind of the companion and the heat conducted to the surface. It is noted that there are several scenarios in which low-mass companions can evolve from m > 0.1 M to m < 0.05 M provided the companion nearly fills its Roche lobe. If contact with the Roche lobe is not constantly maintained by angular momentum loss, and if self-sustained accretion cannot occur without this contact, then the lack of fading LMXBs can be attributed to accretion nulling, punctuated by periods of vigorous accretion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-365
Number of pages7
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 20 Sep 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • Stars: mass loss
  • Sun: corona
  • Sun: solar wind
  • X-rays: binaries


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