The accelerative expansion of the Crab Nebula's outer envelope is a mystery in dynamics, as a conventional expanding blast wave decelerates when bumping into the surrounding interstellar medium. Here we show that the strong relativistic pulsar wind bumping into its surrounding nebula induces energy-generating processes and initiates a detonation wave that propagates outward to form the current outer edge, namely, the shock front, of the nebula. The resulting detonation wave, with a reactive downstream, then provides the needed power to maintain propagation of the shock front. Furthermore, relaxation of the curvature-induced reduction of the propagation velocity from the initial state of formation to the asymptotic, planar state of Chapman-Jouguet propagation explains the observed accelerative expansion. Potential richness in incorporating reactive fronts in the description of various astronomical phenomena is expected.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Physics and Astronomy