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Journal Article

Waves in pulsar winds


Kirk,  John G.
Division Prof. Dr. Werner Hofmann, MPI for Nuclear Physics, Max Planck Society;

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Kirk, J. G. (2010). Waves in pulsar winds. Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion, 52(12): 124029. doi:10.1088/0741-3335/52/12/124029.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0011-6FD1-C
The radio, optical, x-ray and gamma-ray nebulae that surround many pulsars are thought to arise from synchrotron and inverse Compton emission. The energy powering this emission as well as the magnetic fields and relativistic particles are supplied by a 'wind' driven by the central object. The inner parts of the wind can be described using the equations of MHD, but these break down in the outer parts, when the density of charge carriers drops below a critical value. This paper reviews the wave properties of the inner part (striped wind), and uses a relativistic two-fluid model (cold electrons and positrons) to re-examine the nonlinear electromagnetic modes that propagate in the outer parts. It is shown that in a radial wind, two solutions exist for circularly polarized electromagnetic modes. At large distances one of them turns into a freely expanding flow containing a vacuum wave, whereas the other decelerates, corresponding to a confined flow.