Neutron star-axion star collisions in the light of multimessenger astronomy

Tim Dietrich, Francesca Day, Katy Clough, Michael Coughlin, Jens Niemeyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Axions are increasingly favoured as a candidate particle for the dark matter in galaxies, since they satisfy the observational requirements for cold dark matter and are theoretically well motivated. Fluctuations in the axion field give rise to stable localized overdensities known as axion stars, which, for the most massive, compact cases, are potential neutron star mimickers. In principle, there are no fundamental arguments against the multimessenger observations of GW170817/GRB170817A/AT2017gfo arising from the merger of a neutron star with a neutron star mimicker, rather than from a binary neutron star. To constrain this possibility and better understand the astrophysical signatures of a neutron star-axion star (NSAS) merger, we present in this work a detailed example case of an NSAS merger based on full 3D numerical relativity simulations, and give an overview of the many potential observables - ranging from gravitational waves to optical and near-infrared electromagnetic signals, radio flares, fast radio bursts, gamma ray bursts, and neutrino emission. We discuss the individual channels and estimate to what distances the current and future observatories might be able to detect such an NSAS merger. Such signals could constrain the unknown axion mass and its couplings to standard baryonic matter, thus enhancing our understanding of the dark matter sector of the Universe.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)908-914
Number of pages7
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 11 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
TD acknowledges support by the European Unions Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No 749145, BNSmergers. Computations have been performed on the supercomputer SuperMUC at the LRZ (Munich) under the project number pr48pu, and the compute cluster Minerva of the Max-Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics. This work has been partially supported by STFC consolidated grant ST/P000681/1. We thank David J E Marsh and MC David Marsh for useful discussions. Furthermore, TD and KC want to thank S.Khan for helpful comments on our simulations of ASs.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Author(s).


  • Dark matter
  • Gravitational waves
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Methods: numerical
  • Stars: neutron


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