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On the dynamics of mechanical failures in magnetized neutron star crusts

Authors

  • Yuri Levin,

    Corresponding author
    1. Leiden Observatory, Leiden University, Leiden, the Netherlands
    • Monash Center for Astrophysics, Monash University, Clayton, VIC, Australia
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  • Maxim Lyutikov

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Physics, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA
    • Monash Center for Astrophysics, Monash University, Clayton, VIC, Australia
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E-mail: yuri.levin@monash.edu.au (YL); lyutikov@purdue.edu (ML)

ABSTRACT

We consider the dynamics of a mechanical failure induced by a shear stress in a strongly magnetized neutron star crust. We show that even if the elastic properties of the crust allow the creation of a shear crack, the strongly sheared magnetic field around the crack leads to a back-reaction from the Lorentz force which does not allow large relative displacement of the crack surfaces. Instead, the global evolution of the crack proceeds on a slow resistive time-scale, and is unable to release any substantial mechanical energy. Our calculations demonstrate that for some magnetic-field configurations, the magnetic forces cause, effectively, a plastic deformation of the crust when the resulting elastic shear stress exceeds the critical value for the mechanical failure.

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