An electromagnetic wave propagating through a highly magnetized plasma experiences nonlinear effects arising from its interaction with both the plasma and the QED vacuum. We numerically explore the nonlinear behaviour of these waves using a model in which the background field and electromagnetic waves are treated nonperturbatively and can be arbitrarily strong. It is expected that electromagnetic waves commonly form shock discontinuities under the influence of the vacuum nonlinearities in a strong magnetic field. However, we discover a class of travelling wave solutions with distinctly nonlinear characteristics that stabilize them against shock formation. These waves may be an important part of the energy transmission processes near pulsars and magnetars. This research was supported by funding from NSERC.
AAS/High Energy Astrophysics Division #11
- Pub Date:
- March 2010