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Neutron star radii, universal relations, and the role of prior distributions...

by Andrew W Steiner, James Lattimer, Edward Brown
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The European Physical Journal A
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We investigate constraints on neutron star structure arising from the assumptions that neutron stars have crusts, that recent calculations of pure neutron matter limit the equation of state of neutron star matter near the nuclear saturation density, that the high-density equation of state is limited by causality and the largest high-accuracy neutron star mass measurement, and that general relativity is the correct theory of gravity. We explore the role of prior assumptions by considering two classes of equation of state models. In a first, the intermediate- and high-density behavior of the equation of state is parameterized by piecewise polytropes. In the second class, the high-density behavior of the equation of state is parameterized by piecewise continuous line segments. The smallest density at which high-density matter appears is varied in order to allow for strong phase transitions above the nuclear saturation density. We critically examine correlations among the pressure of matter, radii, maximum masses, the binding energy, the moment of inertia, and the tidal deformability, paying special attention to the sensitivity of these correlations to prior assumptions about the equation of state. It is possible to constrain the radii of 1.4 solar mass neutron stars to be larger than 10 km, even without consideration of additional astrophysical observations, for example, those from photospheric radius expansion bursts or quiescent low-mass X-ray binaries. We are able to improve the accuracy of known correlations between the moment of inertia and compactness as well as the binding energy and compactness. We also demonstrate the existence of a correlation between the neutron star binding energy and the moment of inertia.