Large-amplitude, pair-creating oscillations in pulsar and black hole magnetospheres

Amir Levinson, Don Melrose, Alex Judge, Qinghuan Luo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A time-dependent model for pair creation in a pulsar magnetosphere is developed in which the parallel electric field oscillates with large amplitude. Electrons and positrons are accelerated periodically, and the amplitude of the oscillations is assumed to be large enough to cause creation of upgoing and downgoing pairs at different phases of the oscillation. With a charge-starved initial condition, we find that the oscillations result in bursts of pair creation in which the pair density rises exponentially with time. The pair density saturates at N± ≃ E0 2/(8πmec2Γthr), where E0 is the parallel electric field in the charge-starved initial state and Γthr is the Lorentz factor for effective pair creation. The frequency of oscillations following the pair creation burst is given roughly by ωosc = eE0/(8methr). A positive feedback keeps the system stable, such that the average pair creation rate balances the loss rate due to pairs escaping the magnetosphere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)456-465
Number of pages10
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 I
StatePublished - 20 Sep 2005


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