Journal Article

Pulsar current revisited

N. Vranešević and D. B. Melrose

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 410, issue 4, pages 2363-2369
Published in print February 2011 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online January 2011 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Pulsar current revisited

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The pulsar current, in the plane where P is the pulsar period and is the period derivative, is used as a supposedly ‘model-free’ way to estimate the pulsar birthrate from statistical data on pulsars. We reconsider the derivation of the kinetic equation on which this is based, and argue that the interpretation of the pulsar current is strongly model dependent, being sensitive to the form of the assumed evolution law for pulsars. We discuss the case where the trajectory of a pulsar is assumed to be of the form with K and n constant, and show that (except for n= 2) one needs to introduce a pseudo-source term in order to infer the birthrate from the pulsar current. We illustrate the effect of this pseudo-source term using pulsar data to estimate the birthrate for different choices of n. We define and discuss an alternative ‘potential’ class of evolution laws for which this complication is avoided due to the pseudo-source term being identically zero.

Keywords: stars: magnetic field; pulsars: general; stars: statistics

Journal Article.  4729 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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