Intra-pulse variability induced by plasmoid formation in pulsar magnetospheres

I. C. Andaç, B. Cerutti*, G. Dubus, K. Y. Eksi

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Context. Pulsars show irregularities in their pulsed radio emission that originate from propagation effects and the intrinsic activity of the source. Aims. In this work, we investigate the role played by magnetic reconnection and the formation of plasmoids in the pulsar wind current sheet as a possible source of intrinsic pulse-to-pulse variability in the incoherent, high-energy emission pattern. Methods. We used a two-dimensional particle-in-cell simulation of an orthogonal pulsar magnetosphere restricted to the plane perpendicular to the star spin axis. We evolved the solution for several tens of pulsar periods to gather a statistically significant sample of synthetic pulse profiles. Results. The formation of plasmoids leads to strong pulse-to-pulse variability in the form of multiple short, bright subpulses, which appear only on the leading edge of each main pulse. These secondary peaks of emission are dominated by the dozen plasmoids that can grow up to macroscopic scales. They emerge from the high end of the hierarchical merging process occurring along the wind current layer. The flux of the subpulses is correlated with their width in phase. Although the full-scale separation is not realistic, we argue that the simulation correctly captures the demographics and the properties of the largest plasmoids, and therefore of the brightest subpulses. Conclusions. The prediction of subpulses at specific pulse phases provides a new observational test of the magnetic reconnection scenario as the origin of the pulsed incoherent emission. High-time-resolution observations of the Crab pulsar in the optical range may be the most promising source to target for this purpose.

Orijinal dilİngilizce
Makale numarasıA130
DergiAstronomy and Astrophysics
Yayın durumuYayınlandı - 1 May 2022

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 I. C. Andaç et al.


Acknowledgements. This work received funding and support from Campus France, the French Embassy in Ankara, the COST Action PHAROS (CA16214), and the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 863412). Simulations presented in this paper were performed using the GRICAD infrastructure (, which is supported by Grenoble research communities.

FinansörlerFinansör numarası
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme863412
European Research Council
European Cooperation in Science and TechnologyCA16214
Campus France

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