1932

Abstract

The discovery of pulsars opened a new research field that allows studying a wide range of physics under extreme conditions. More than 3,000 pulsars are currently known, including especially more than 200 of them studied at gamma-ray frequencies. By putting recent insights into the pulsar magnetosphere in a historical context and by comparing them to key observational features at radio and high-energy frequencies, we show the following:

  • ▪  Magnetospheric structure of young energetic pulsars is now understood. Limitations still exist for old nonrecycled and millisecond pulsars.
  • ▪  The observed high-energy radiation is likely produced in the magnetospheric current sheet beyond the light cylinder.
  • ▪  There are at least two different radio emission mechanisms. One operates in the inner magnetosphere, whereas the other one works near the light cylinder and is specific to pulsars with the high magnetic field strength in that region.
  • ▪  Radio emission from the inner magnetosphere is intrinsically connected to the process of pair production, and its observed properties contain the imprint of both the geometry and propagation effects through the magnetospheric plasma.

We discuss the limitations of our understanding and identify a range of observed phenomena and physical processes that still await explanation in thefuture. This includes connecting the magnetospheric processes to spin-down properties to explain braking and possible evolution of spin orientation, building a first-principles model of radio emission and quantitative connections with observations.

[Erratum, Closure]

An erratum has been published for this article:
Erratum: Pulsar Magnetospheres and Their Radiation
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2022-08-18
2024-06-20
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