Pulsar current sheet Čerenkov radiation
Gravitational Wave and Cosmology Laboratory, Department of Astronomy, Beijing Normal University,
2 Department of Physics and Astronomy, West Virginia University, PO Box 6315, Morgantown, WV 26506, USA
Accepted: 16 December 2017
Plasma-filled pulsar magnetospheres contain thin current sheets wherein the charged particles are accelerated by magnetic reconnections to travel at ultra-relativistic speeds. On the other hand, the plasma frequency of the more regular force-free regions of the magnetosphere rests almost precisely on the upper limit of radio frequencies, with the cyclotron frequency being far higher due to the strong magnetic field. This combination produces a peculiar situation, whereby radio-frequency waves can travel at subluminal speeds without becoming evanescent. The conditions are thus conducive to Čerenkov radiation originating from current sheets, which could plausibly serve as a coherent radio emission mechanism. In this paper we aim to provide a portrait of the relevant processes involved, and show that this mechanism can possibly account for some of the most salient features of the observed radio signals.
Key words: radiation mechanisms: non-thermal / stars: neutron
© ESO 2018