A Caltech Library Service

Magnetospheric Eclipses in the Double-Pulsar System PSR J0737–3039

Rafikov, Roman R. and Goldreich, Peter (2005) Magnetospheric Eclipses in the Double-Pulsar System PSR J0737–3039. Astrophysical Journal, 631 (1). pp. 488-494. ISSN 0004-637X. doi:10.1086/432248.

PDF - Published Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


We argue that eclipses of radio emission from the millisecond pulsar A in the double-pulsar system PSR J0737-3039 are due to synchrotron absorption by plasma in the closed field line region of the magnetosphere of its normal pulsar companion B. On the basis of a plausible geometric model, pulsar A's radio beam only illuminates pulsar B's magnetosphere for about 10 minutes surrounding the time of eclipse. During this time it heats particles at r ≳ 10^9 cm to relativistic energies and enables extra plasma, beyond that needed to maintain the corotation electric field, to be trapped by magnetic mirroring. An enhancement of the plasma density by a factor of ~10^2 is required to match the duration and optical depth of the observed eclipses. The extra plasma might be supplied by a source near B through Bγ pair creation by energetic photons produced in B's outer gap. Relativistic pairs cool by synchrotron radiation close to where they are born. Reexcitation of their gyrational motions by cyclotron absorption of A's radio beam can result in their becoming trapped between conjugate mirror points in B's magnetosphere. Because the trapping efficiency decreases with increasing optical depth, the plasma density enhancement saturates even under steady state illumination. The result is an eclipse with finite, frequency-dependent optical depth. After illumination by A's radio beam ceases, the trapped particles cool and are lost. The entire cycle repeats every orbital period. We speculate that the asymmetries between eclipse ingress and egress result in part from the magnetosphere's evolution toward a steady state when illuminated by A's radio beam. We predict that A's linear polarization varies with both eclipse phase and B's rotational phase.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Additional Information:© 2005 American Astronomical Society. Received 2005 January 13; accepted 2005 May 23. We thank Jonathan Arons, Anatoly Spitkovsky, and Sterl Phinney for useful discussions and suggestions and an anonymous referee for bringing the paper of Zhang et al. (2004) to our attention.We are especially grateful to Chris Thompson, whose work on PSR J0737-3039 parallels ours in many respects and who has graciously shared with us his results before publication. R. R. R. acknowledges support from the W. M. Keck Foundation and NSF grant PHY-0070928. Research by P. G. was supported through NSF grant AST 00-98301.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
W. M. Keck FoundationUNSPECIFIED
NSFAST 00-98301
Subject Keywords:plasmas — pulsars: general — pulsars: individual (PSR J0737-3039A, PSR J0737-3039B) — radiation mechanisms: nonthermal — stars: neutron
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130227-102316325
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Magnetospheric Eclipses in the Double-Pulsar System PSR J0737–3039 Roman R. Rafikov and Peter Goldreich 2005 ApJ 631 488
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:37171
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:28 Feb 2013 15:31
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 23:27

Repository Staff Only: item control page