Anomalous Radio-Wave Scattering from Interstellar Plasma Structures
CORNELL UNIV ITHACA NY DEPT OF ASTRONOMY
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This paper considers scattering screens that have arbitrary spatial variations of scattering strength transverse to the line of sight, including screens that are spatially well confined, such as disks and filaments. We calculate the scattered image of a point source and the observed pulse shape of a scattered impulse. The consequences of screen confinement include 1 source image shapes that are determined by the physical extent of the screen rather than by the shapes of much smaller diffracting microirregularities these include image elongations and orientations that are frequency dependent 2 variation with frequency of angular broadening that is much weaker than the trademark v-2 scaling law for a cold, unmagnetized plasma, including frequency-independent cases and 3 similar departure of the pulse-broadening time from the usually expected v-4 scaling law. We briefly discuss applications that include scattering of pulses from the Crab pulsar by filaments in the Crab Nebula image asymmetries from Galactic scattering of the sources Cyg X-3, Sgr A, and NGC 6334B and scattering of background active galactic nuclei by intervening galaxies. We also address the consequences for inferences about the shape of the wavenumber spectrum of electron density irregularities, which depend on scaling laws for the image size and the pulse broadening. Future low-frequency 100 MHz array observations will also be strongly affected by the Galactic structure of scattering material. Our formalism is derived in the context of radio scattering by plasma density fluctuations. It is also applicable to optical, UV, and X-ray scattering by grains in the interstellar medium.