Pulsar scintillations from corrugated reconnection sheets in the ISM
We show that surface waves along interstellar current sheets closely aligned with the line of sight lead to pulsar scintillation properties consistent with those observed. By contrast with previously considered scintillation drivers, our mechanism naturally produces the length and density scales of the ISM scattering lenses that are required to explain the magnitude and dynamical spectrum of the scintillations. In our picture, the parts of warm ionized interstellar medium that are responsible for the scintillations are relatively quiescent, with scintillation and scattering resulting from weak waves propagating along magnetic domain boundary current sheets, which are both expected from helicity conservation and have been observed in numerical simulations. The model quantitatively predicts the spacing and amplitudes of inverted parabolic arcs seen in Fourier-transformed dynamical spectra of strongly scintillating pulsars. Multi-frequency, multi-epoch low frequency VLBI observations can quantitatively test this picture. If successful, in addition to mapping the ISM, this opens the door to precise nanoarcsecond pulsar astrometry, distance measurements, and emission studies using these 10AU interferometers in the sky.