Modeling ofγ-ray pulsar light curves from force-free magnetosphere

Xue Ning Bai, Anatoly Spitkovsky

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The Fermi LAT has recently discovered dozens of new gamma-ray pulsars, and is destined to revolutionize our knowledge of pulsar science. The gamma-ray pulsar light curves carry important information about pulsar magnetospheric structure, which has commonly been modeled as a vacuum dipole. We briefly review theoretical models of gamma-ray pulsar light curves and point out their uncertainties due to the usage of vacuum field. We present the first results of pulsar high-energy light curve modeling using the more realistic force-free (FF) field taken from time-dependent FF simulations. With the FF field, we find the conventional slot-gap (two-pole caustic) and outer-gap models are no longer able to produce the commonly observed double-peak light curves. The most geometrically favored gamma-ray emission zone lies in a thin layer near the edge of the open flux tube. Emission from this “separatrix layer” generally produces two sharp peaks in the light curve, which are formed near and beyond the light cylinder. We show that most features and statistics from the currently available gamma-ray pulsar light curves can be well reproduced and explained in this framework. The location of this emission zone strongly suggests its association with the current sheet, thus calling for more detailed study of current sheet physics and particle acceleration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAstrophysics and Space Science Proceedings
EditorsNanda Rea, Diego F. Torres
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media B.V.
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)9783642172519
ISBN (Print)9780387727677, 9780387876207, 9781402055720, 9781402069321, 9781402088674, 9781402091896, 9781441981608, 9781441983688, 9783540758259, 9783642033230, 9783642103216, 9783642103513, 9783642113406, 9783642172502, 9783642172502, 9789048133994, 9789048134984
StatePublished - 2011
Event1st Sant Cugat Forum on Astrophysics, 2010 - Barcelona, Spain
Duration: Apr 12 2010Apr 16 2010

Publication series

NameAstrophysics and Space Science Proceedings
ISSN (Print)1570-6591
ISSN (Electronic)1570-6605


Other1st Sant Cugat Forum on Astrophysics, 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Spectroscopy
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics


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