A spherical neutron star does not radiate gravitational waves, in accordance with Birkhoff’s theorem. This is still true for an axially-symmetric neutron star. However, a neutron star with nonaxial deformations, rigidly rotating with the angular frequency , radiates gravitational waves and thus loses energy at a rate given by the formula
The parameter can be constrained, independent of the pulsar timing data, by direct observations with gravitational wave detectors . The analysis of the data imposes upper limits on the maximum amplitude of the gravitational waves emitted by these pulsars. The two inequalities (292) and (293) can be combined to put constraints on the moment of inertia and on the parameter of a given pulsar. The example of the Crab pulsar  is shown in Figure 78. Note that the constraint from the gravitational wave data has already reached the level of the spin-down limit.
The crust of a neutron star contains only a very small percentage of the mass of the star. Nevertheless, its elastic response to centrifugal, magnetic and tidal forces determines the overall shape of the star. The presence of mountains on the surface of the star leads to a nonvanishing value of the parameter . If the star is rotating around one of the principal axes of the inertia tensor, is given by –5 – 10–2, as argued by Smoluchowski . Considering small perturbations in a Newtonian star composed of an incompressible liquid of density , surrounded by a thin crust with a constant shear modulus , the deformation parameter is given by the formula  30 g cm–1 s–2 (see Section 7.1), can be written as  and references therein). The deformation depends on the configuration of the magnetic field and scales like   and references therein).
The presence of magnetic fields inside neutron stars or mountains on the surface are not the only mechanisms for the emission of gravitational waves. Time-dependent nonaxisymmetric deformations can also be caused by oscillations. For instance, a neutron star with a solid crust, rotating about some axis (i.e. not aligned with any principal axis of the stellar moment of inertia tensor) will precess. For a small wobble angle , the deformation parameter is given by , PSR B1642–03  and RXJ 0720.4–3125 .
A large number of different nonaxisymmetric neutron-star–oscillation modes exists, for instance, in the liquid surface layers (“ocean”), in the solid crust, in the liquid core and at the interfaces between the different regions of the star. These oscillations can be excited by thermonuclear explosions induced by the accretion of matter from a companion star, by starquakes, by dynamic instabilities growing on a timescale on the order of the oscillation period or by secular instabilities driven by dissipative processes and growing on a much longer timescale. Oscillation modes are also expected to be excited during the formation of the neutron star in a supernova explosion. The nature of these modes, their frequency, their growing and damping timescales depend on the structure and composition of the star (for a review, see, for instance, [285, 244, 12]).
Of particular astrophysical interest are the inertial modes or Rossby waves (simply referred to as r-modes) in neutron star cores. They can be made unstable by the radiation of gravitational waves on short timescales of a few seconds in the most rapidly-rotating neutron stars . However, the growth of these modes can be damped. One of the main damping mechanisms is the formation of a viscous boundary Ekman layer at the crust-core interface  (see also  and references therein). It has been argued that the heat dissipated in this way could even melt the crust . The damping rate depends crucially on the structure of bottom layers of the crust and scales like , where is the slippage velocity at the crust-core interface . Let us suppose that the liquid in the core does not penetrate inside the crust, like a liquid inside a bucket. The slippage velocity in this case is very large and as a consequence the r-modes are strongly damped. However, these assumptions are not realistic. First of all, the crust is not perfectly rigid, as discussed in Section 7. On the contrary, the crust is quite “soft” to shear deformations because , where is the shear modulus and the pressure. The oscillation modes of the liquid core are coupled to the elastic modes in the crust, which results in much smaller damping rates [263, 163]. Besides, the transition between the crust and the core might be quite smooth. Indeed, neutron superfluid in the core permeates the inner crust and the denser layers of the crust could be formed of nuclear “pastas” with elastic properties similar to those of liquid crystals (see Section 7.2). The slippage velocity at the bottom of the crust could, therefore, be very small . Consequently, the Ekman damping rate of the r-modes could be much weaker than the available estimates. If the crust were purely fluid, the damping rate would be vanishingly small. However the presence of the magnetic field would also affect the damping time scale and should be taken into account [289, 238]. Besides the character of the core oscillation modes is likely to be affected by coupling with the crust. The role of the crust in the dissipation of the r-mode instability is, thus, far from being fully understood. Finally, let us mention that by far the strongest damping mechanism of r-modes, due to a huge bulk viscosity, may be located in the inner neutron star core, provided it contains hyperons (see, e.g., [182, 264] and references therein).
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