Pulsar Lightning

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Summary Table
Category Progenitor Type Energy Mechanism Emission Mechanism Counterparts References Brief Comments
LF Radio HF Radio Microwave Terahertz Optical/IR X-rays Gamma-rays Gravitational Waves Neutrinos
Other Pulsar Lightning Repeat Electrostatic Curv. Yes -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2017MNRAS.469L..39K None

Definitions: LF Radio (3 MHz to 3 GHz); HF Radio (3 GHz to 30 GHz); Microwave (30 to 300 GHz)

Model Description

Akin to SGRs powered by the release magnetic energy stored in magnetars, FRBs may be powered by the release of electrostatic energy stored in pulsars. Provided there are regions of magnetospheric plasma with distinct energy, separated by a vacuum gap, the discharge of such energy could manifest as “pulsar lighting”, analogous to the flow of current in the atmosphere when lightning strikes. This intense, rapidly varying, electric field in the gaps would accelerate electrons and positrons in the magnetosphere, producing coherent curvature radiation observable as an FRB.

Observational Constraints

The large variation of FRB 121102 burst widths, and hence the variation of spectra fluences and frequencies, are consistent with this model.