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Astron. Astrophys. 357, 301-307 (2000)

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Braking of electrons in pulsar magnetospheres by Compton scattering in thermal radiation fields

R. Supper and J. Trümper

Max-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik, Postfach 1603, 85740 Garching, Germany

Received 3 December 1999 / Accepted 17 February 2000


Electrons accelerated at the polar cap of a pulsar lose energy by interactions with the thermal photospheric radiation. Using Michel's acceleration model (1974) we present an analytical treatement of these braking processes taking into account curvature radiation as well as resonant and non-resonant inverse Compton scattering and the distribution of the thermal photons originating from the polar cap. Results are obtained for a wide range of pulsar parameters. It turns out that for photospheric temperatures below [FORMULA] and polar magnetic fields below [FORMULA] braking by inverse Compton scattering has negligible influence on the end energy of the electrons around the polar axes. For magnetic field strength between [FORMULA] and [FORMULA] the energy loss is significant but depends on the pulsar rotation period. In the case of very high temperatures such as [FORMULA] the energy loss is dramatic within a wide range of magnetic field strengths. Millisecond pulsars are not affected.

Key words: acceleration of particles – radiation mechanisms: thermal – scattering – stars: neutron – stars: pulsars: general

Send offprint requests to: R. Supper

Correspondence to: ros@mpe.mpg.de

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 2000

Online publication: May 3, 2000