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Shedding new light on the Crab with polarized X-rays
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Astronomy.
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Number of Authors: 16
2017 (English)In: Scientific Reports, ISSN 2045-2322, E-ISSN 2045-2322, Vol. 7, 7816Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Strong magnetic fields, synchrotron emission, and Compton scattering are omnipresent in compact celestial X-ray sources. Emissions in the X-ray energy band are consequently expected to be linearly polarized. X-ray polarimetry provides a unique diagnostic to study the location and fundamental mechanisms behind emission processes. The polarization of emissions from a bright celestial X-ray source, the Crab, is reported here for the first time in the hard X-ray band (similar to 20-160 keV). The Crab is a complex system consisting of a central pulsar, a diffuse pulsar wind nebula, as well as structures in the inner nebula including a jet and torus. Measurements are made by a purpose-built and calibrated polarimeter, PoGO+. The polarization vector is found to be aligned with the spin axis of the pulsar for a polarization fraction, PF = (20.9 +/- 5.0)%. This is higher than that of the optical diffuse nebula, implying a more compact emission site, though not as compact as, e.g., the synchrotron knot. Contrary to measurements at higher energies, no significant temporal evolution of phase-integrated polarisation parameters is observed. The polarization parameters for the pulsar itself are measured for the first time in the X-ray energy band and are consistent with observations at optical wavelengths.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 7, 7816
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Physical Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-147096DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-07390-7ISI: 000407400500048PubMedID: 28798398OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-147096DiVA: diva2:1148699
Available from: 2017-10-12 Created: 2017-10-12 Last updated: 2017-10-12Bibliographically approved

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