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Journal Article

Axisymmetric pulsar magnetosphere revisited


Beloborodov,  Andrei M.
Galaxy Formation, Cosmology, MPI for Astrophysics, Max Planck Society;

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Hu, R., & Beloborodov, A. M. (2022). Axisymmetric pulsar magnetosphere revisited. The Astrophysical Journal, 939(1): 42. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/ac961d.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000C-8F66-1
We present a global kinetic plasma simulation of an axisymmetric pulsar magnetosphere with self-consistent e± pair production. We use the particle-in-cell method and log-spherical coordinates with a grid size 4096 × 4096. This allows us to achieve a high voltage induced by the pulsar rotation and investigate pair creation in a young pulsar far from the death line. We find the following: (1) The energy release and e± creation are strongly concentrated in the thin, Y-shaped current sheet, with a peak localized in a small volume at the Y-point. (2) The Y-point is shifted inward from the light cylinder by ∼15% and "breathes" with a small amplitude. (3) The dense e± cloud at the Y-point is in ultrarelativistic rotation, which we call superrotation, because it exceeds corotation with the star. The cloud receives angular momentum flowing from the star along the poloidal magnetic field lines. (4) Gamma-ray emission peaks at the Y-point and is collimated in the azimuthal direction, tangent to the Y-point circle. (5) The separatrix current sheet between the closed magnetosphere and the open magnetic field lines is sustained by the electron backflow from the Y-point cloud. Its thickness is self-regulated to marginal charge starvation. (6) Only a small fraction of dissipation occurs in the separatrix inward of the Y-point. A much higher power is released in the equatorial plane, including the Y-point where the created dense e± plasma is spun up and intermittently ejected through the nozzle between the two open magnetic fluxes.