2D Relativistic Pulsar Winds From Rapidly Rotating Neutron Stars

  • M. Camenzind
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (ASIC, volume 300)


Pulsars are rotating neutron stars surrounded by strong magnetic fields and energetic particles. The structure of both the interior and exterior magnetosphere depends on the strength of the plasma source near the surface of the star. We start our analysis with magnetospheric models including pair-production as proposed by Sturrock, Ruderman and Sutherland, and Arons. In the light of these models, all neutron stars observed as pulsars must have relativistic magnetohydrodynamic wind exterior magnetospheres. Explicit solutions of the pulsar wind equation have so far only been obtained for monopole geometries. We present the most general axisymmetric theory for adiabatic pulsar winds including the gravitational background of the neutron star, the structure of the magnetic flux tube and finite pressure effects. These MHD equations can be reduced to a tractable set of equations consisting of the hot wind equation for the pair plasma and the relativistic Grad-SchlÜter-Shafranov (GSS) equation for the magnetic flux function. The structure of the solutions for the hot pair wind equation is discussed. We also show how self-consistent axisymmetric MHD magnetospheres can be constructed by simultaneous solutions of this pair wind equation and solutions of the GSS equation. In the case of young pulsars and of the millisecond pulsars, the escaping pair wind is terminated by a strong shock. Downstream of the shock, the flow decelerates and increases its pressure in order to match the boundary conditions imposed by the outer edge of the nebula. We discuss the jump conditions for those types of relativistic MHD shocks, which consist of a family of nested toroids as shown by the hard X-ray observations on the Crab nebula. This is in conflict with standard spherically symmetric models. We also apply these pulsar winds to millisecond pulsars in low mass binary systems, such as PSR 1957 + 20, where the pulsar wind is expected to form a shock front around the evaporating low mass companion star.


Neutron Star Accretion Disk Millisecond Pulsar Crab Nebula Toroidal Magnetic Field 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Camenzind
    • 1
  1. 1.Landessternwarte KônigstuhlGermany

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