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- Plasma without Plasma: Exploring Force-Free Magnetospheres

Pulsars have enormous magnetic fields whose energy density

dwarfs the rest mass density of their plasma magnetosphere. In this

regime of a plasma, the particles drop out of the description, leaving a set of

equations for the electromagnetic field alone. This non-linear,

deterministic system is known as force-free electrodynamics, and turns out to

have some beautiful and bizarre features. I will give a pedagogical

introduction to these equations and their role in astrophysics and then discuss

our recent contributions. We have taken a geometric viewpoint, using the

null structure of spacetime to unify previous exact solutions and discover new

ones. We have found non-stationary, non-axisymmetric solutions that

describe the outer magnetosphere of pulsars, including those that are

accelerated or torqued. We have derived the standard cartoon of the

aligned pulsar magnetosphere from an explicit, minimal set of assumptions.

Time permitting, I will also discuss some properties of black hole

magnetospheres: Blandford-Znajek energy extraction, non-scattering force-free

waves, and the no-ingrown-hair theorem.

Collection/Series:

Event Type:

Seminar

Scientific Area(s):

Speaker(s):

Event Date:

Thursday, October 10, 2013 - 11:00 to 12:30

Location:

Space Room

©2012 Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics