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Session 74 - Pulsars.
Display session, Wednesday, January 15
The existence of an electron-positron plasma is thought to be necessary in many, if not most, pulsar polar cap radio emission models. We have developed a computer code which simulates the pair production cascade process, via gamma-ray pair production and synchrotron radiation. To keep our results generally applicable, we have run the code with monoenergetic seed photons (in a dipole magnetic field); a specific cascade model can then be simulated by the convolution of the output of our code with the initial photon spectrum relevant to the model (for example, curvature emission or inverse Compton scattering of softer photons by charged particles accelerated from the stellar surface).
A number of surprising results have been found thus far, as we continue to explore the vast parameter space available. Our results indicate that the leptons' average momentum along the field is much lower in most cases than was thought previously. Also, for a vast range of parameter space, the leptons' distribtution function (DF) has a universal shape: constant for low momenta, and power-law steepening above a break near p=mc, with the slope of the power-law near -2. The shape of this function, important in understanding plasma wavemodes and instabilities, is markedly different than what has been assumed in the literature.
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