EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 422, Number 2, August I 2004
Page(s) 609 - 619
Section Interstellar and circumstellar matter
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20034400

A&A 422, 609-619 (2004)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20034400

The effects of spin-down on the structure and evolution of pulsar wind nebulae

N. Bucciantini1, 2, R. Bandiera3, J. M. Blondin2, E. Amato3 and L. Del Zanna1

1  Dip. di Astronomia e Scienza dello Spazio, Università di Firenze, Largo E. Fermi 2, 50125 Firenze, Italy
    e-mail: niccolo@arcetri.astro.it
2  Department of Physics, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
3  INAF, Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri, Largo E. Fermi 5, 50125 Firenze, Italy

(Received 25 September 2003 / Accepted 16 April 2004 )

We present high resolution spherically symmetric relativistic magnetohydrodynamical simulations of the evolution of a pulsar wind nebula inside the freely expanding ejecta of the supernova progenitor. The evolution is followed starting from a few years after the supernova explosion and up to an age of the remnant of 1500 years. We consider different values of the pulsar wind magnetization parameter and also different braking indices for the spin-down process. We compare the numerical results with those derived through an approximate semi-analytical approach that allows us to trace the time evolution of the positions of both the pulsar wind termination shock and the contact discontinuity between the nebula and the supernova ejecta. We also discuss, whenever a comparison is possible, to what extent our numerical results agree with former self-similar models, and how these models could be adapted to take into account the temporal evolution of the system. The inferred magnetization of the pulsar wind could be an order of magnitude lower than that derived from time independent analytic models.

Key words: stars: pulsars: general -- shock waves -- stars: winds, outflows -- magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) -- ISM: supernova remnants

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