We develop a model of gamma-ray flares of the Crab Nebula resulting from the magnetic reconnection events in a highly magnetised relativistic plasma. We first discuss physical parameters of the Crab Nebula and review the theory of pulsar winds and termination shocks. We also review the principle points of particle acceleration in explosive reconnection events [Lyutikov et al., J. Plasma Phys., vol. 83(6), p. 635830601 (2017a); J. Plasma Phys., vol. 83(6), p. 635830602 (2017b)]. It is required that particles producing flares are accelerated in highly magnetised regions of the nebula. Flares originate from the poleward regions at the base of the Crab’s polar outflow, where both the magnetisation and the magnetic field strength are sufficiently high. The post-termination shock flow develops macroscopic (not related to the plasma properties on the skin-depth scale) kink-type instabilities. The resulting large-scale magnetic stresses drive explosive reconnection events on the light-crossing time of the reconnection region. Flares are produced at the initial stage of the current sheet development, during the X-point collapse. The model has all the ingredients needed for Crab flares: natural formation of highly magnetised regions, explosive dynamics on the light travel time, development of high electric fields on macroscopic scales and acceleration of particles to energies well exceeding the average magnetic energy per particle.
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