Dartmouth Events

Physics and Astronomy Colloquium - Anatoly Spitkovsky, Princeton University

Title: "Pulsar Magnetosphere: The Incredible Machine"

Friday, April 12, 2019
3:00pm – 4:00pm
Wilder 104
Intended Audience(s): Public
Categories: Lectures & Seminars

Abstract: Pulsars are rotating magnetized neutron stars that emit repeating pulses of radiation spanning all of the electromagnetic spectrum. At 50 years after their discovery, more than 2000 pulsars are known, and they have been used as sensitive astronomical probes of diverse phenomena ranging from the properties of interstellar medium to the predictions of general theory of relativity. Despite great observational successes, our theoretical understanding of how pulsar magnetospheres work is woefully incomplete. Pulsars bring together aspects of classical and quantum electrodynamics, coupled with strongly magnetized plasma physics in curved rotating spacetime of a massive compact object. The nonlinear interplay of these effects makes it a very difficult but rewarding problem to study. I will review the status and progress of pulsar magnetospheric modeling in various approximations, including force-free and relativistic magnetohydrodynamics, culminating with recent developments of fully kinetic simulations of pulsar magnetospheres. These simulations allow us to find the shape of the magnetosphere and the location of particle acceleration regions, constraining the origin of high energy emission. The pulsar magnetosphere is a prototype for other strongly magnetized astrophysical objects, and I will discuss how the lessons from pulsar modeling can be useful in understanding the physics of black holes and in predicting electromagnetic counterparts to gravitational wave sources.


For more information, contact:
Tressena Manning

Events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.