Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc., 471, L131-L134 (2017/October-2)
The geometry of a radio pulsar beam.
Abstract (from CDS):
Taxonomy of radio pulsar profiles is mostly based on a system of Ptolemaic artificiality, consisting of separated rings and a core, arbitrarily located at disparate altitudes in the magnetosphere. Diversity of observed profile shapes clearly exceeds the interpretive capability of such conal model. Moreover, bifurcated features observed in pulsar profiles imply a system of fan beams radially extending away from the dipole axis. The bifurcations can be understood as the imprint of the elementary radiation pattern of the long-sought radio emission mechanism, thus identifying the latter. Their size, however, is several times larger than implied by the curvature of magnetic dipole lines. Here, I show that the illusion of disconnected rings and the size of bifurcated features can be explained through a natural geometry that combines the properties of both the cone and the fan beam. It is a flaring spiral that makes several revolutions around the dipole axis on its way to leave the magnetosphere. Such geometry is consistent with a stream of outflowing and laterally drifting plasma. The bifurcated components are so wide because the curvature on such a spiral is larger than that of the dipolar magnetic field, and hence they are consistent with the extraordinary mode curvature radiation.