A magnetic thrust action on small bodies orbiting a pulsar
LUTH, Observatoire de Paris, CNRS, Unviersité Paris Diderot, 5 place Jules Janssen, 92190 Meudon, France
2 Observatoire Astronomique, Université de Strasbourg, 11, rue de l’Université, 67000 Strasbourg, France
Received: 14 April 2011
Accepted: 30 May 2011
Aims. We investigate the electromagnetic interaction of a relativistic stellar wind with small bodies in orbit around the star.
Methods. Based on our work on the theory of Alfvén wings to relativistic winds presented in a companion paper, we estimate the force exerted by the associated current system on orbiting bodies and evaluate the resulting orbital drift.
Results. This Alfvénic structure is found to have no significant influence on planets or smaller bodies orbiting a millisecond pulsar. On the time scale of millions of years, it can however affect the orbit of bodies with a diameter of 100 km around standard pulsars with a period P ~ 1 s and a magnetic field B ~ 108 T. Kilometer-sized bodies experience drastic orbital changes on a time scale of 104 years.
Key words: minor planets, asteroids: general / pulsars: general / magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) / proper motions
© ESO, 2011