EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 434, Number 1, April IV 2005
Page(s) 189 - 199
Section Interstellar and circumstellar matter
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20042205

A&A 434, 189-199 (2005)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20042205

Relativistic MHD simulations of pulsar bow-shock nebulae

N. Bucciantini1, E. Amato1 and L. Del Zanna2

1  INAF Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri, Largo E. Fermi 5, 50125 Firenze, Italy
    e-mail: niccolo@arcetri.astro.it
2  Dip. di Astronomia e Scienza dello Spazio, Università di Firenze, Largo E. Fermi 2, 50125 Firenze, Italy

(Received 19 October 2004 / Accepted 13 December 2004)

Pulsar bow-shock nebulae are a class of pulsar wind nebulae (PWNe) that form when the pulsar wind is confined by the ram pressure of the ambient medium, and are usually associated with old pulsars, that have already emerged from the progenitor Supernova Remnant (SNR). Until a few years ago these nebulae were mainly observed as H$\alpha$ sources; recently, also non-thermal emission has been detected. This is the signature of accelerated particles gyrating in a magnetic field. In the same way as H$\alpha$ radiation is a tool for studying the layer of shocked Interstellar Medium (ISM), the non-thermal radiation might be used to infer the properties of the shocked pulsar wind. However theoretical and numerical models have been presented so far only in the hydrodynamical (HD) regime, while in order to properly model the internal flow structure and the emission properties of these nebulae a magnetohydrodynamical (MHD) treatment is required. We present here relativistic MHD (RMHD) axisymmetric simulations of pulsar wind bow-shock nebulae. The structure and fluid dynamics of such objects is investigated for various values of the pulsar wind magnetization. Simulated synchrotron maps are computed and comparison of the emission pattern with observations is discussed.

Key words: ISM: jets and outflows -- stars: pulsars: general -- magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) -- shock waves -- relativity

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