X-ray spectra from protons illuminating a neutron star
Max-Planck-Institut für Astrophysik, Karl-Schwarzschildstr. 1, 85740 Garching, Germany
Corresponding author: B. Deufel, firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 8 August 2001
We consider the interaction of a slowly rotating unmagnetized neutron star with a hot (ion supported, ADAF) accretion flow. The virialized protons of the ADAF penetrate into the neutron star atmosphere, heating a surface layer. Detailed calculations are presented of the equilibrium between heating by the protons, electron thermal conduction, bremsstrahlung and multiple Compton scattering in this layer. Its temperature is of the order 40-70 keV. Its optical depth increases with the incident proton energy flux, and is of the order unity for accretion at 10-2-10-1 of the Eddington rate. At these rates, the X-ray spectrum produced by the layer has a hard tail extending to 100 keV, and is similar to the observed spectra of accreting neutron stars in their hard states. The steep gradient at the base of the heated layer gives rise to an excess of photons at the soft end of the spectrum (compared to a blackbody) through an "inverse photosphere effect" . The differences with respect to previous studies of similar problems are discussed, they are due mostly to a more accurate treatment of the proton penetration process and the vertical structure of the heated layer.
Key words: accretion, accretion disks / radiative transfer / stars: neutron / X-rays: stars
© ESO, 2001