Radio Emission Region Exposed: Courtesy of the Double Pulsar

The double pulsar system PSR J0737-3039A/B offers exceptional possibilities for detailed probes of the structure of the pulsar magnetosphere, pulsar winds and relativistic reconnection. We numerically model the distortions of the magnetosphere of pulsar B by the magnetized wind from pulsar A, including effects of magnetic reconnection and of the geodetic precession. Geodetic precession leads to secular evolution of the geometric parameters and effectively allows a 3D view of the magnetosphere. Using the two complimentary models of pulsar B’s magnetosphere, adapted from the Earth’s magnetosphere models by Tsyganenko (ideal pressure confinement) and Dungey (highly resistive limit), we determine the precise location and shape of the coherent radio emission generation region within pulsar B’s magnetosphere. We successfully reproduce orbital variations and secular evolution of the profile of B, as well as subpulse drift (due to reconnection between the magnetospheric and wind magnetic fields), and determine the location and the shape of the emission region. The emission region is located at about 3750 stellar radii and has a horseshoe-like shape, which is centered on the polar magnetic field lines. The best fit angular parameters of the emission region indicate that radio emission is generated on the field lines which, according to the theoretical models, originate close to the poles and carry the maximum current. When considered together, the results of the two models converge and can explain why the modulation of B’s radio emission at A’s period is observed only within a certain orbital phase region. Our results imply that the wind of pulsar A has a striped structure only 1000 light cylinder radii away. We discuss the implications of these results for pulsar magnetospheric models, mechanisms of coherent radio emission generation, and reconnection rates in relativistic plasma.

Read this paper on arXiv…

Date added: Wed, 9 Oct 13