Article révisé par les pairs
Résumé : Context. In the cooling process of a non-accreting neutron star, the composition and properties of the crust are thought to be fixed at the finite temperature where nuclear reactions fall out of equilibrium. A lower estimate for this temperature is given by the crystallization temperature, which can be as high as ≈7 × 10 9 K in the inner crust, potentially leading to sizeable differences with respect to the simplifying cold-catalyzed matter hypothesis. Aims. We extend a recent work on the outer crust to the study of the crystallization of the inner crust and the associated composition in the one-component plasma approximation. Methods. The finite temperature variational equations for non-uniform matter in both the liquid and the solid phases are solved using a compressible liquid-drop approach with parameters optimized on four different microscopic models that cover current uncertainties in nuclear modeling. Results. We consider the effect of the different nuclear ingredients with their associated uncertainties separately: the nuclear equation of state, the surface properties in the presence of a uniform gas of dripped neutrons, and the proton shell effects arising from the ion single-particle structure. Our results suggest that the highest source of model dependence comes from the smooth part of the nuclear functional. Conclusions. We show that shell effects play an important role at the lowest densities close to the outer crust, but the most important physical ingredient to be settled for a quantitative prediction of the inner crust properties is the surface tension at extreme isospin values.