Collapse and black hole formation in magnetized, differentially rotating neutron stars

B. C. Stephens, M. D. Duez, Y. T. Liu, S. L. Shapiro, M. Shibata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The capacity to model magnetohydrodynamical (MHD) flows in dynamical, strongly curved spacetimes significantly extends the reach of numerical relativity in addressing many problems at the forefront of theoretical astrophysics. We have developed and tested an evolution code for the coupled Einstein-Maxwell-MHD equations which combines a BSSN solver with a high resolution shock capturing scheme. As one application, we evolve magnetized, differentially rotating neutron stars under the influence of a small seed magnetic field. Of particular significance is the behaviour found for hypermassive neutron stars (HMNSs), which have rest masses greater than the mass limit allowed by uniform rotation for a given equation of state. The remnant of a binary neutron star merger is likely to be a HMNS. We find that magnetic braking and the magnetorotational instability lead to the collapse of HMNSs and the formation of rotating black holes surrounded by massive, hot accretion tori and collimated magnetic field lines. Such tori radiate strongly in neutrinos, and the resulting neutrino-antineutrino annihilation (possibly in concert with energy extraction by MHD effects) could provide enough energy to power short-hard gamma-ray bursts. To explore the range of outcomes, we also evolve differentially rotating neutron stars with lower masses and angular momenta than the HMNS models. Instead of collapsing, the non-hypermassive models form nearly uniformly rotating central objects which, in cases with significant angular momentum, are surrounded by massive tori.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberS14
Pages (from-to)S207-S219
JournalClassical and Quantum Gravity
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 21 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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