Precursors have been observed seconds to minutes before some short gamma-ray bursts. While the precursor origins remain unknown, one explanation relies on the resonance of neutron star pulsational modes with the tidal forces during the inspiral phase of a compact binary merger. In this paper, we present a model for short gamma-ray burst precursors that relies on tidally resonant neutron star oceans. In this scenario, the onset of tidal resonance in the crust–ocean interface mode ignites the precursor flare, possibly through the interaction between the excited neutron star ocean and the surface magnetic fields. From just the precursor total energy, the time before the main event, and a detected quasi-periodic oscillation frequency, we may constrain the binary parameters and neutron star ocean properties. Our model can immediately distinguish neutron star–black hole mergers from binary neutron star mergers without gravitational wave detection. We apply our model to GRB 211211A, the recently detected long duration short gamma-ray burst with a quasi-periodic precursor, and explore the parameters of this system. The precursor of GRB 211211A is consistent with a tidally resonant neutron star ocean explanation that requires an extreme mass ratio neutron star–black hole merger and a high-mass neutron star. While difficult to reconcile with the main gamma-ray burst and associated kilonova, our results constrain the possible precursor mechanisms in this system. A systematic study of short gamma-ray burst precursors with the model presented here can test precursor origin and probe the possible connection between gamma-ray bursts and neutron star–black hole mergers.
Neutron stars in astrophysical binary systems represent exciting sources for multimessenger astrophysics. A potential source of electromagnetic transients from compact binary systems is the neutron star ocean, the external fluid layer encasing a neutron star. We present a groundwork study into tidal waves in neutron star oceans and their consequences. Specifically, we investigate how oscillation modes in neutron star oceans can be tidally excited during compact binary inspirals and parabolic encounters. We find that neutron star oceans can sustain tidal waves with frequencies between 0.01 and 20 Hz. Our results suggest that tidally resonant neutron star ocean waves may serve as a never-before studied source of precursor electromagnetic emission prior to neutron star–black hole and binary neutron star mergers. If accompanied by electromagnetic flares, tidally resonant neutron star ocean waves, whose energy budget can reach 1046 erg, may serve as early warning signs (≳1 min before merger) for compact binary mergers. Similarly, excited ocean tidal waves will coincide with neutron star parabolic encounters. Depending on the neutron star ocean model and a flare emission scenario, tidally resonant ocean flares may be detectable by Fermi and Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) out to ≳100 Mpc with detection rates as high as ∼7 yr−1 for binary neutron stars and ∼0.6 yr−1 for neutron star–black hole binaries. Observations of emission from neutron star ocean tidal waves along with gravitational waves will provide insight into the equation of state at the neutron star surface, the composition of neutron star oceans and crusts, and neutron star geophysics.more » « less
- Award ID(s):
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- Oxford University Press
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
- Medium: X Size: p. 6173-6189
- ["p. 6173-6189"]
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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