Once-ionized helium in superstrong magnetic fields

George G. Pavlov, Victor G. Bezchastnov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


It is generally believed that magnetic fields of some neutron stars, the so-called magnetars, are enormously strong, up to 1014-10 15 G. Recent investigations have shown that the atmospheres of magnetars are possibly composed of helium. We calculate the structure and bound-bound radiative transitions of the He+ ion in superstrong fields, including the effects caused by the coupling of the ion's internal degrees of freedom to its center-of-mass motion. We show that He+ in superstrong magnetic fields can produce spectral lines with energies of up to ≈3 keV, and it may be responsible for absorption features detected recently in the soft X-ray spectra of several radio-quiet isolated neutron stars. Quantization of the ion's motion across a magnetic field results in a fine structure of spectral lines, with a typical spacing of tens of electron volts in magnetar-scale fields. It also gives rise to ion cyclotron transitions, whose energies and oscillator strengths depend on the state of the bound ion. The bound-ion cyclotron lines of He can be observed in the UV-optical range at B ≲ 1013 G, and they get into the soft X-ray range at B ≳ 1014 G.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L61-L64
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 II
StatePublished - Dec 10 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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