PULSAR MAGNETOSPHERES: Beyond the FLAT SPACETIME DIPOLE

Samuel E. Gralla, Alexandru Lupsasca, Alexander Philippov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

Most studies of the pulsar magnetosphere have assumed a pure magnetic dipole in flat spacetime. However, recent work suggests that the effects of general relativity are in fact of vital importance and that realistic pulsar magnetic fields will have a significant nondipolar component. We introduce a general analytical method for studying the axisymmetric force-free magnetosphere of a slowly rotating star of arbitrary magnetic field, mass, radius, and moment of inertia, including all the effects of general relativity. We confirm that spacelike current is generically present in the polar caps (suggesting a pair production region), irrespective of the stellar magnetic field. We show that general relativity introduces a ∼60% correction to the formula for the dipolar component of the surface magnetic field inferred from spindown. Finally, we show that the location and shape of the polar caps can be modified dramatically by even modestly strong higher moments. This can affect emission processes occurring near the star and may help explain the modified beam characteristics of millisecond pulsars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number258
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume833
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 20 2016

Keywords

  • magnetic fields
  • plasmas
  • pulsars: general
  • stars: rotation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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