Particle-In-Cell Simulations of a Nonlinear Transverse Electromagnetic Wave in a Pulsar Wind Termination Shock

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A 2.5-dimensional particle-in-cell code is used to investigate the propagation of a large-amplitude, superluminal, nearly transverse electromagnetic (TEM) wave in a relativistically streaming electron-positron plasma with and without a shock. In the freestreaming, unshocked case, the analytic TEM dispersion relation is verified, and the streaming is shown to stabilize the wave against parametric instabilities. In the confined, shocked case, the wave induces strong, coherent particle oscillations, heats the plasma, and modifies the shock density profile via ponderomotive effects. The wave decays over {approx}> 10{sup 2} skin depths; the decay length scale depends primarily on the ratio between the wave frequency ... continued below

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10 pages

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Skjaeraasen, Olaf; Melatos, A. & Spitkovsky, A. August 15, 2005.

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A 2.5-dimensional particle-in-cell code is used to investigate the propagation of a large-amplitude, superluminal, nearly transverse electromagnetic (TEM) wave in a relativistically streaming electron-positron plasma with and without a shock. In the freestreaming, unshocked case, the analytic TEM dispersion relation is verified, and the streaming is shown to stabilize the wave against parametric instabilities. In the confined, shocked case, the wave induces strong, coherent particle oscillations, heats the plasma, and modifies the shock density profile via ponderomotive effects. The wave decays over {approx}> 10{sup 2} skin depths; the decay length scale depends primarily on the ratio between the wave frequency and the effective plasma frequency, and on the wave amplitude. The results are applied to the termination shock of the Crab pulsar wind, where the decay length-scale ({approx}> 0.05''?) might be comparable to the thickness of filamentary, variable substructure observed in the optical and X-ray wisps and knots.

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10 pages

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  • Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 634

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  • Report No.: SLAC-PUB-11397
  • Grant Number: AC02-76SF00515
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 878790
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc873085

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  • August 15, 2005

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  • Sept. 21, 2016, 2:29 a.m.

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  • July 26, 2017, 11:58 a.m.

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Skjaeraasen, Olaf; Melatos, A. & Spitkovsky, A. Particle-In-Cell Simulations of a Nonlinear Transverse Electromagnetic Wave in a Pulsar Wind Termination Shock, article, August 15, 2005; [Menlo Park, California]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc873085/: accessed November 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.