- Pulsars are rotating neutron stars and all those not in a binary
star system are observed to be slowing down.
Both particles (most likely electron positron pairs) and magnetic fields
carry the rotation energy away from the star in a relativistic wind,
several pulsars this energy is seen to be released in a pulsar nebula.
- However, how the energy is released is unknown.
One possibility is magnetic reconnection or annihilation. The
pulsar wind carries a wave pattern imprinted on it at the rotation
frequency of the star. Magnetic field lines from the two poles are
folded into a striped pattern, separated by a current sheet
Coroniti 1990). This
alternating component of the field can be dissipated, leading to
acceleration of the wind.
- Dissipation, if it occurs rapidly, will give
energy emission, similar to that observed.
- How rapidly can this happen? - An interesting
question whose answer (here are some guesses)
depends on the uncertain microphysics
of relativistic current sheets
- Here is a review article