Volume 548, December 2012
|Number of page(s)
|Stellar structure and evolution
|19 November 2012
Aqueye optical observations of the Crab Nebula pulsar
Departamento de FísicaUniversidade Federal de Santa Catarina,
2 INAF – Astronomical Observatory of Padova, 35122 Padova, Italy
3 Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Padova, 35122 Padova, Italy
4 Department of Information Engineering, University of Padova, 35122 Padova, Italy
5 CNR – IFN UOS Padova LUXOR, 35122 Padova, Italy
6 Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, University of Ljubljana, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
7 INAF – Astronomical Observatory of Rome, via Frascati 33, 00040 Monteporzio, Rome, Italy
8 INAF – Astronomical Observatory of Cagliari, Str. 54, Loc. Poggio dei Pini, 09012 Capoterra, Sardinia, Italy
9 Curtin University, Department of Spatial Sciences, GNSS Research Centre, GPO Box U1987, Perth, WA 6845, Australia
Received: 28 December 2011
Accepted: 2 October 2012
Context. We observed the Crab pulsar in October 2008 at the Copernico Telescope in Asiago – Cima Ekar with the optical photon counter Aqueye (the Asiago Quantum Eye), which has the best temporal resolution and accuracy ever achieved in the optical domain (hundreds of picoseconds).
Aims. Our goal was to perform a detailed analysis of the optical period and phase drift of the main peak of the Crab pulsar and compare it with the Jodrell Bank ephemerides.
Methods. We determined the position of the main peak using the steepest zero of the cross-correlation function between the pulsar signal and an accurate optical template.
Results. The pulsar rotational period and period derivative have been measured with great accuracy using observations covering only a two day time interval. The error on the period is 1.7 ps, limited only by the statistical uncertainty. Both the rotational frequency and its first derivative agree with those from the Jodrell Bank radio ephemerides archive. We also found evidence that the optical peak precedes the radio peak by ~230 μs. The distribution of phase residuals of the whole dataset is slightly more scattered than that of a synthetic signal generated as a sequence of pulses distributed in time with the probability proportional to the pulse shape.
Conclusions. The counting statistics and quality of the data allowed us to determine the pulsar period and period derivative with great accuracy in two days only. The time of arrival of the optical peak of the Crab pulsar precedes the radio peak in agreement with what was recently reported in the literature. The distribution of the phase residuals can be approximated with a Gaussian and is consistent with being completely caused by photon noise (for the best data sets).
Key words: pulsars: individual: Crab pulsar / techniques: photometric
© ESO, 2012
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