The theory of pulsar winds and the nebulae they energize is currently celebrating its golden jubilee. Ten years before the discovery of pulsars it was already apparent that the magnetic field and relativistic particles that produce the radiation of the Crab Nebula must have their origin in a central stellar object . Today, about 50 similarly powered objects are known, and some of them, like the Crab, are detected and even resolved at all accessible photon frequencies, from the radio to TeV gamma-rays. The rotation of the central neutron star  is now universally accepted as the energy source fuelling these objects, but the details of the coupling mechanism are still unclear. In this article we review current theoretical ideas on this subject and their relationship to observations. We concentrate on the magneto-hydrodynamic description of the relativistic outflow driven by the pulsar and on the bubble it inflates in the surrounding medium.
Astrophysics and Space Science Library
- Pub Date:
- 33 pages, to appear in Springer Lecture Notes on "Neutron stars and pulsars, 40 years after the discovery", ed W.Becker