Recent γ-ray observations suggest that particle acceleration occurs at the outer region of the pulsar magnetosphere. The magnetic field lines in the outer acceleration region (OAR) are connected to the neutron star surface (NSS). If copious electron-positron pairs are produced near the NSS, such pairs flow into the OAR and screen the electric field there. To activate the OAR, the electromagnetic cascade due to the electric field near the NSS should be suppressed. However, since a return current is expected along the field lines through the OAR, the outflow extracted from the NSS alone cannot screen the electric field just above the NSS. In this paper, we analytically and numerically study the electric field screening at the NSS, taking into account the effects of the backflowing particles from the OAR. In certain limited cases, the electric field is screened without significant pair cascade if only ultra-relativistic particles (γ \gg 1) flow back to the NSS. On the other hand, if electron-positron pairs with a significant number density and mildly relativistic temperature, expected to distribute in a wide region of the magnetosphere, flow back to the NSS, these particles adjust the current and charge densities so that the electric field can be screened without pair cascade. We obtain the condition needed for the number density of particles to screen the electric field at the NSS. We also find that in the ion-extracted case from the NSS, bunches of particles are ejected to the outer region quasi-periodically, which is a possible mechanism of observed radio emission.
The Astrophysical Journal
- Pub Date:
- September 2016
- acceleration of particles;
- pulsars: general;
- Astrophysics - High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena
- 15 pages, 13 figures, 1 table. Accepted for publication in Astrophysical Journal