Journal Article

The nature of pulsar radio emission

J. Dyks, B. Rudak and P. Demorest

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 401, issue 3, pages 1781-1795
Published in print January 2010 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online January 2010 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
The nature of pulsar radio emission

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High-quality averaged radio profiles of some pulsars exhibit double, highly symmetric features both in emission and in absorption. It is shown that both types of feature are produced by a split fan beam of extraordinary-mode curvature radiation that is emitted/absorbed by radially extended streams of magnetospheric plasma. With no emissivity in the plane of the stream, such a beam produces bifurcated emission components (BFCs) when our line of sight passes through the plane. An example of a double component created in this way is present in the averaged profile of the 5-ms pulsar J1012+5307. We show that the component can indeed be very well fitted by the textbook formula for the non-coherent beam of curvature radiation in the polarization state that is orthogonal to the plane of electron trajectory. The observed width of the BFC decreases with increasing frequency at a rate that confirms the curvature origin. Likewise, the double absorption features (double notches) are produced by the same beam of the extraordinary-mode curvature radiation, when it is eclipsed by thin plasma streams. The intrinsic property of curvature radiation to create bifurcated fan beams explains the double features in terms of a very natural geometry and implies the curvature origin of pulsar radio emission. Similarly, the ‘double conal’ profiles of class D result from a cut through a wider stream with finite extent in magnetic azimuth. Therefore, their width reacts very slowly to changes of viewing geometry resulting from geodetic precession. The stream-cut interpretation implies a highly non-orthodox origin of both the famous S-swing of polarization angle and the low-frequency pulse broadening in D profiles. The azimuthal structure of polarization modes in the curvature radiation beam provides an explanation for the polarized ‘multiple imaging’ and the edge depolarization of pulsar profiles.

Keywords: radiation mechanisms: non-thermal; pulsars: general; pulsars: individual: J1012+5307; pulsars: individual: J0437−4715; pulsars: individual: B0525+21; pulsars: individual: B1913+16

Journal Article.  11518 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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