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Hottest Superfluid and Superconductor in the Universe: Lessons from the Cooling of the Cassiopeia A Neutron Star

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 April 2012

Wynn C. G. Ho
Affiliation:
School of Mathematics, University of Southampton, Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK email: wynnho@slac.stanford.edu
Craig O. Heinke
Affiliation:
Department of Physics, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2G7, Canada
Daniel J. Patnaude
Affiliation:
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
Peter S. Shternin
Affiliation:
Ioffe Physical Technical Institute, Politekhnicheskaya 26, 194021 St. Petersburg, Russia St. Petersburg State Polytechnical Univ., Politekhnicheskaya 29, 195251 St. Petersburg, Russia email: pshternin@gmail.com
Dmitry G. Yakovlev
Affiliation:
Ioffe Physical Technical Institute, Politekhnicheskaya 26, 194021 St. Petersburg, Russia St. Petersburg State Polytechnical Univ., Politekhnicheskaya 29, 195251 St. Petersburg, Russia
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Abstract

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The cooling rate of young neutron stars gives direct insight into their internal makeup. Using Chandra observations of the 330-year-old Cassiopeia A supernova remnant, we find that the temperature of the youngest-known neutron star in the Galaxy has declined by 4% over the last 10 years. The decline is explained naturally by superconductivity and superfluidity of the protons and neutrons in the stellar core. The protons became superconducting early in the life of the star and suppressed the early cooling rate; the neutron star thus remained hot before the (recent) onset of neutron superfluidity. Once the neutrons became superfluid, the Cooper pair-formation process produced a splash of neutrino emission which accelerated the cooling and resulted in the observed rapid temperature decline. This is the first time a young neutron star has been seen to cool in real time, and is the first direct evidence, from cooling observations, of superfluidity and superconductivity in the core of neutron stars.

Type
Contributed Papers
Copyright
Copyright © International Astronomical Union 2012

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