Volume 423, Number 1, August III 2004
|Page(s)||253 - 265|
|Section||Interstellar and circumstellar matter|
|Published online||29 July 2004|
Magnetic Rayleigh-Taylor instability for Pulsar Wind Nebulae in expanding Supernova Remnants
Dip. di Astronomia e Scienza dello Spazio, Università di Firenze, Largo E. Fermi 2, 50125 Firenze, Italy e-mail: email@example.com
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
Accepted: 11 May 2004
We present a numerical investigation of the development of Rayleigh-Taylor instability at the interface between an expanding Pulsar Wind Nebula and its surrounding Supernova Remnant. These systems have long been thought to be naturally subject to this kind of instability, given their expansion behavior and the density jump at the contact discontinuity. High resolution images of the Crab Nebula at optical frequencies show the presence of a complex network of line-emitting filaments protruding inside the synchrotron nebula. These structures are interpreted as the observational evidence that Rayleigh-Taylor instability is in fact at work. The development of this instability in the regime appropriate to describe Supernova Remnant-Pulsar Wind Nebula systems is non-trivial. The conditions at the interface are likely close to the stability threshold, and the inclusion of the nebular magnetic field, which might play an important role in stabilizing the system, is essential to the modeling. If Rayleigh-Taylor features can grow efficiently a mixing layer in the outer portion of the nebula might form where most of the supernova material is confined. When a magnetic field close to equipartition is included we find that the interface is stable, and that even a weaker magnetic field affects substantially the growth and shape of the fingers.
Key words: instabilities / magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) / stars: pulsars: general / stars: winds, outflows / ISM: supernova remnants
© ESO, 2004
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