Tidal heating and mass loss in neutron star binaries: Implications for gamma-ray burst models

P. Mészáros, M. J. Rees

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166 Scopus citations


A neutron star in a close binary orbit around another neutron star (or stellar-mass black hole) spirals inward owing to gravitational radiation. We discuss the effects of tidal dissipation during this process. Tidal energy dissipated in the neutron star's core escapes mainly as neutrinos, but heating of the crust, and outward diffusion of photons, blows off the outer layers of the star. This photon-driven mass loss precedes the final coalescence. The presence of this eject material impedes the escape of γ-rays created via neutrino interactions. If an e+ - e fireball, created in the late stages of coalescence, were loaded with (or surrounded by) material with the mean column density of the ejecta, it could not be an efficient source of γ-rays. Models for cosmologically distant γ-rays bursts that involve neutron stars must therefore be anisotropic, so that the fireball expands preferentially in directions where the column density of previously blown-off material is far below the spherically averaged value which we have calculated. Some possible "scenarios" along these lines are briefly discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)570-575
Number of pages6
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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