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High-Energy Emission from Pulsars: The Polar Cap Scenario

  • Baring, Matthew G.
Publication Date
Aug 18, 2003
Submission Date
Aug 18, 2003
DOI: 10.1016/j.asr.2003.08.020
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The study of pulsars in the three and a half decades since their discovery has highlighted a handful of issues critical to their understanding. To date there is no consensus on the physical mechanism for their radio radio emission, despite a rapid increase in the observed population due to the Parkes Multi-Beam survey and prospects for similar growth in the radio population database in the near future. The small subset of pulsars that emit at X-ray to gamma-ray wavelengths are critical to refining the pulsar paradigm since this energy band (i) is where the vast majority of radiative luminosity is observed, and (ii) is intimately connected to the pair winds that form the dominant mode of energy deposition in the circum-pulsar environment. The most crucial point of contention pertaining to the high energy astrophysics of pulsars is the location of the acceleration region in their magnetospheres: is an outer gap model or a polar cap scenario (or both) the most appropriate picture. Radiative signatures provide the clues to this current enigma. This review focuses on salient characteristics of the polar cap scenario; these form the basis for discriminating observational diagnostics that should drive pulsars studies in the GLAST era just three years away.

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