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Astron. Astrophys. 334, L49-L52 (1998)

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Letter to the Editor

Is [FORMULA]-ray absorption by induced electric fields important in the pulsar magnetospheres?

Zheng Zheng 1, 2, 3, Bing Zhang 1, 3 and G.J. Qiao 1, 3, 4

1 Department of Geophysics, Peking University, Beijing, 100871, P.R. China
2 Beijing Astronomical Observatory, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100080, P.R. China
3 CAS-PKU Joint Beijing Astrophysics Center, Beijing, 100871, P.R. China
4 CCAST (World Laboratory) P.O. Box 8730, Beijing, 100080, P.R. China (e-mail: zhengz@bac.pku.edu.cn; zb@bac.pku.edu.cn; gjn@pku.edu.cn)

Received 9 March 1998 / Accepted 23 April 1998


Although the unified formula for [FORMULA] -ray absorption process involving both the magnetic field and a perpendicular electric field derived by Daugherty & Lerche (1975) is correct, we argued in this paper that their conclusion that the induced electric fields are important in the pair formation process in the pulsar magnetospheres is wrong and misleading. The key point is that usually the direction of a [FORMULA] photon at the emission point observed in the laboratory frame should be [FORMULA] rather than [FORMULA], where v is the co-rotating velocity. This emission direction is just the one which results in zero attenuation coefficient of the [FORMULA] photon. Calculation shows that after the photon has moved a distance, its direction lead to the result that the induced electric field is also of minor importance. Thus only [FORMULA] process is the important mechanism for the pair production in the pulsar magnetospheres. The implications of the modification by ejecting the induced electric field are also discussed.

Key words: pulsars: general – pair production

Send offprint requests to: Z. Zheng

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1998

Online publication: May 15, 1998