The effect of photoelectric absorption on space-charge-limited flow in pulsars




Photoelectric absorption of blackbody photons is an important process which limits the acceleration of ions under the space-charge-limited flow boundary condition at the polar caps of pulsars with positive corotational charge density. Photoelectric cross-sections in high magnetic fields have been found for the geometrical conditions of the problem, and ion transition rates calculated as functions of the surface temperatures on both the polar cap and the general neutron-star surface. The general surface temperature is the more important and, unless it is below 105 K, limits the acceleration electric field in the open magnetosphere to values far below those needed either for electron–positron pair creation or slot-gap X-ray sources. But such ion beams are unstable against growth of a quasi-longitudinal Langmuir mode at rates that can be observationally significant as a source of coherent radio emission.