Long waves in a relativistic pair plasma in a strong magnetic field

M. Gedalin, D. B. Melrose, E. Gruman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


The properties of low-frequency waves in a one-dimensional, relativistic electron-positron plasma in a strong external magnetic field typical of pulsar magnetospheres are discussed. Approximate dispersion relations are derived for a broad class of distribution functions that have an intrinsically relativistic spread in energies. The effects of the non-neutrality, associated with rotation, and of the relative motion of the plasma species are discussed briefly. In the plasma rest frame only three wave modes need be considered. The magnetosonic [formula presented] mode becomes firehose unstable as the magnetic field weakens, and this occurs in the wind zone of the pulsar. The Alfvén [formula presented] mode exists only below a maximum frequency, and is weakly damped only for sufficiently strong magnetic fields. The Langmuir-[formula presented] mode is approximately longitudinal near its cutoff frequency, and approximately transverse at high frequencies. We argue that the emission zone is within [formula presented] pulsar radii, and that only [formula presented] [formula presented] and Langmuir waves may participate in the formation of the observed radio spectrum.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3399-3410
Number of pages12
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical Physics, Plasmas, Fluids, and Related Interdisciplinary Topics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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