Research Articles

An Instability in Neutron Stars at Birth

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Science  16 Oct 1992:
Vol. 258, Issue 5081, pp. 430-434
DOI: 10.1126/science.258.5081.430


Calculations with a two-dimensional hydrodynamic simulation show that a generic Raleigh-Taylor-like instability occurs in the mantles of nascent neutron stars, that it is possibly violent, and that the standard spherically symmetric models of neutron star birth and supemova explosion may be inadequate. Whether this "convective" instability is pivotal to the supemova mechanism, pulsar magnetic fields, or a host of other important issues that attend stellar collapse remains to be seen, but its existence promises to modify all questions concerning this most energetic of astronomical phenomena.