Volume 375, Number 3, September 2001
|Page(s)||1032 - 1039|
|Published online||15 September 2001|
Pulsar bow-shock nebulae
I. Physical regimes and detectability conditions
Dip. di Astronomia e Scienza dello Spazio, Università di Firenze, Largo E. Fermi 5, 50125 Firenze, Italy e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri, Largo E. Fermi 5, 50125 Firenze, Italy
Corresponding author: R. Bandiera, email@example.com
Accepted: 20 June 2001
Pulsar bow-shock nebulae originate from the interaction of the ambient medium with the wind of a moving pulsar. The properties of these nebulae depend on both the physical conditions in the ambient medium and the characteristics of the pulsar wind, and may thus represent a powerful diagnostic tool. The main limits to this study are, on the observational side, the very limited sample of pulsar bow-shock nebulae known so far and, on the theoretical one, a still limited understanding of the physical conditions in these nebulae: in particular, classical bow-shock models are not appropriate to describe these objects. In this paper we outline the most likely physical regimes for nebulae associated with typical pulsars, and discuss why classical models cannot be applied to these objects. We also discuss how microphysical processes may affect both the dynamics of the flow and the properties of the emission (mostly in Balmer lines). We finally put forward a criterion to select among the known pulsars those with the highest probability of having a detectable bow-shock nebula.
Key words: shock waves / stars: pulsars: general / stars: winds, outflows / ISM: general
© ESO, 2001
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