Atmospheres and radiating surfaces of neutron stars
A.Y. Potekhin a, b, c
a Ioffe Institute, ul. Polytekhnicheskaya 26, St. Petersburg, 194021, Russian Federation
b Centre de Recherche Astrophysique de Lyon (CNRS, UMR 5574); Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon; Université de Lyon, Université Lyon 1; Observatoire de Lyon, 9 avenue Charles André, Saint-Genis-Laval, 69230, France
c The Central Astronomical Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences at Pulkovo, Pulkovskoe shosse 65/1, St. Petersburg, 196140, Russian Federation
The early 21st century witnesses a dramatic rise in the study of thermal radiation of neutron stars. Modern space telescopes have provided a wealth of valuable information which, when properly interpreted, can elucidate the physics of superdense matter in the interior of these stars. This interpretation is necessarily based on the theory of formation of neutron star thermal spectra, which, in turn, is based on plasma physics and on the understanding of radiative processes in stellar photospheres. In this paper, the current status of the theory is reviewed with particular emphasis on neutron stars with strong magnetic fields. In addition to the conventional deep (semi-infinite) atmospheres, radiative condensed surfaces of neutron stars and ’thin’ (finite) atmospheres are considered.