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3/06/14 TAP Colloquium


Samuel Gralla, University of Maryland
*refreshments served: SO lobby, 3:45pm
Title: Force-free Magnetospheres of Compact Objects
The spectacular displays of pulsars and quasars are likely energized by rotating compact objects (neutron stars and black holes, respectively) through their plasma magnetospheres. When the magnetic field energy dominates that of the plasma, the system can be described by force-free electrodynamics (FFE), a non-linear, autonomous set of equations for the electromagnetic field on the compact object spacetime. Despite its simple covariant formulation, FFE has primarily been studied in 3+1 frameworks, where spacetime is split into space and time. I will describe new results, techniques and insights from an emerging research program taking a spacetime-geometrical approach to force-free plasmas. Highlights include time-dependent, non-axisymmetric exact solutions that can model the pulsar wind, general theorems on black hole magnetospheres and relativistic jets, and a proposal for a simple laboratory experiment.

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