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Pulsar Radio Emission Mechanism: Radio Nanoshots as a Low-frequency Afterglow of Relativistic Magnetic Reconnection

Author(s): Philippov, A; Uzdensky, DA; Spitkovsky, Anatoly; Cerutti, BT

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Abstract: In this Letter we propose that coherent radio emission of the Crab pulsar, other young energetic pulsars, and millisecond pulsars is produced in the magnetospheric current sheet beyond the light cylinder. We carry out global and local 2D kinetic plasma simulations of reconnection to illustrate the coherent emission mechanism. Reconnection in the current sheet beyond the light cylinder proceeds in the very efficient plasmoid-dominated regime, where the current layer gets fragmented into a dynamic chain of plasmoids that undergo successive coalescence. Mergers of sufficiently large plasmoids produce secondary perpendicular current sheets, which are also plasmoid unstable. Collisions of plasmoids with each other and with the upstream magnetic field eject fast magnetosonic waves, which propagate upstream across the background field and successfully escape from the plasma as electromagnetic waves that fall in the radio band. This model successfully explains many important features of the observed radio emission from the Crab and other pulsars with high magnetic field at the light cylinder: Phase coincidence with the high-energy emission, nanosecond duration (nanoshots), and extreme instantaneous brightness of individual pulses.
Publication Date: 1-May-2019
Electronic Publication Date: 1-May-2019
Citation: Philippov, A, Uzdensky, DA, Spitkovsky, A, Cerutti, BT. (2019). Pulsar Radio Emission Mechanism: Radio Nanoshots as a Low-frequency Afterglow of Relativistic Magnetic Reconnection. Astrophysical Journal Letters, 876 (1), 10.3847/2041-8213/ab1590
DOI: doi:10.3847/2041-8213/ab1590
ISSN: 2041-8205
EISSN: 2041-8213
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Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Astrophysical Journal Letters
Version: Final published version. Article is made available in OAR by the publisher's permission or policy.

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