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Relativistic anisotropic pair plasmas


★ E-mail: (EA); (AR)


The properties of waves able to propagate in a relativistic pair plasma are at the basis of the interpretation of several astrophysical observations. For instance, they are invoked in relation to radio emission processes in pulsar magnetospheres and to radiation mechanisms for relativistic radio jets. In such physical environments, pair plasma particles probably have relativistic, or even ultrarelativistic, temperatures. Besides, the presence of an extremely strong magnetic field in the emission region constrains the particles to one-dimensional motion: all the charged particles strictly move along magnetic field lines.

We take anisotropic effects and relativistic effects into account by choosing one-dimensional relativistic Jűttner–Synge distribution functions to characterize the distribution of electrons and/or positrons in a relativistic, anisotropic pair plasma. The dielectric tensor, from which the dispersion relation associated with plane wave perturbations of such a pair plasma is derived, involves specific coefficients that depend on the distribution function of particles. A precise determination of these coefficients, using the relativistic one-dimensional Jűttner–Synge distribution function, allows us to obtain the appropriate dispersion relation. The properties of waves able to propagate in anisotropic relativistic pair plasmas are deduced from this dispersion relation. The conditions in which a beam and a plasma, both ultrarelativistic, may interact and trigger off a two-stream instability are obtained from this same dispersion relation. Two astrophysical applications are discussed.