Effective field theory of force-free electrodynamics

Samuel E. Gralla, Nabil Iqbal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Force-free electrodynamics (FFE) is a closed set of equations for the electromagnetic field of a magnetically dominated plasma. There are strong arguments for the existence of force-free plasmas near pulsars and active black holes, but FFE alone cannot account for the observational signatures, such as coherent radio emission and relativistic jets and winds. We reformulate FFE as the effective field theory of a cold string fluid and initiate a systematic study of corrections in a derivative expansion. At leading order the effective theory is equivalent to (generalized) FFE, with the strings comprised by magnetic field line world sheets. Higher-order corrections generically give rise to nonzero accelerating electric fields (E·B≠0). We discuss potential observable consequences and comment on an intriguing numerical coincidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105004
JournalPhysical Review D
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 15 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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