Hydromagnetic instabilities in relativistic neutron stars

Paul D. Lasky, Burkhard Zink, Kostas D. Kokkotas, Kostas Glampedakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


We model the nonlinear ideal magnetohydrodynamics of poloidal magnetic fields in neutron stars in general relativity assuming a polytropic equation of state. We identify familiar hydromagnetic modes, in particular the "sausage/varicose" mode and "kink" instability inherent to poloidal magnetic fields. The evolution is dominated by the kink instability, which causes a cataclysmic reconfiguration of the magnetic field. The system subsequently evolves to new, non-axisymmetric, quasi-equilibrium end states. The existence of this branch of stable quasi-equilibria may have consequences for magnetar physics, including flare generation mechanisms and interpretations of quasi-periodic oscillations.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberL20
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • magnetohydrodynamics (MHD)
  • stars: magnetars
  • stars: magnetic field
  • stars: neutron

Cite this