Modeling magnetar outbursts: Flux enhancements and the connection with short bursts and glitches

J. A. Pons, N. Rea

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    The availability of a large amount of observational data recently collected from magnetar outbursts is now calling for a complete theoretical study of outburst characteristics. In this Letter (the first of a series dedicated to modeling magnetar outbursts), we tackle the long-standing open issue of whether or not short bursts and glitches are always connected to long-term radiative outbursts. We show that the recent detection of short bursts and glitches seemingly unconnected to outbursts is only misleading our understanding of these events. We show that, in the framework of the starquake model, neutrino emission processes in the magnetar crust limit the temperature, and therefore the luminosity. This natural limit to the maximum luminosity makes outbursts associated with bright persistent magnetars barely detectable. These events are simply seen as a small luminosity increase over the already bright quiescent state, followed by a fast return to quiescence. In particular, this is the case for 1RXSJ1708-4009, 1E1841-045, SGR1806-20, and other bright persistent magnetars. On the other hand, a similar event (with the same energetics) in a fainter source will drive a more extreme luminosity variation and longer cooling time, as for sources such as XTEJ1810-197, 1E1547-5408, and SGR1627-41. We conclude that the non-detection of large radiative outbursts in connection with glitches and bursts from bright persistent magnetars is not surprising per se, nor does it need any revision of the glitches and burst mechanisms as explained by current theoretical models. © 2012. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numberL6
    JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2012


    • stars: magnetars
    • stars: neutron
    • X-rays: bursts


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