Magnetospheres of neutron stars

Anatoly Spitkovsky

KIPAC, Stanford University


Rotating magnetized neutron stars generate enormous electric fields near the surface and populate their magnetospheres with relativistic plasma. The detailed structure of pulsar and magnetar magnetospheres has remained an unsolved problem for a long time. Understanding the magnetospheric structure is crucial for determining the neutron star energy loss rate and its radiative properties. In this talk I present the time-dependent numerical solution of pulsar magnetospheric structure in the limit of force-free relativistic MHD. Both aligned and oblique dipole case are addressed, paying particular attention to the spontaneous formation of current sheets in the magnetosphere. The numerical method is applicable to generic differentially rotating magnetized configurations and is further used to study magnetospheres of magnetars, both in the quescent state, and during rapid field reconfiguration in flares.

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