Volume 597, January 2017
|Number of page(s)||10|
|Section||Stellar structure and evolution|
|Published online||03 January 2017|
Constraining the geometry of PSR J0855−4644: A nearby pulsar wind nebula with double torus/jet morphology
1 Laboratoire AIM, IRFU/Service d’Astrophysique – CEA/DRF – CNRS – Université Paris Diderot, Bât. 709, CEA-Saclay, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, France
2 Centre for Space Research, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, Private Bag X6001, 2520 Potchefstroom, South Africa
Received: 25 May 2016
Accepted: 17 October 2016
Aims. PSR J0855−4644 is a fast-spinning, energetic pulsar discovered at radio wavelengths near the south-eastern rim of the supernova remnant RX J0852.0−4622. A follow-up XMM-Newton observation revealed the X-ray counterpart of the pulsar and a slightly asymmetric pulsar wind nebula, which suggests possible jet structures. Lying at a distance d ≤ 900 pc, PSR J0855−4644 is a pulsar with one of the highest Ė/d2 from which no GeV γ-ray pulsations have been detected. With a dedicated Chandra observation we aim to further resolve the possible jet structures of the nebula and study the pulsar geometry to understand the lack of γ-ray pulsations.
Methods. We performed detailed spatial modelling to constrain the geometry of the pulsar wind nebula and in particular the pulsar line of sight (observer angle) ζPSR, which is defined as the angle between the direction of the observer and the pulsar spin axis. We also performed geometric radio and γ-ray light-curve modelling using a hollow-cone radio beam model together with two-pole caustic and outer gap models to further constrain ζPSR and the magnetic obliquity α defined as the angle between the magnetic and spin axes of the pulsar.
Results. The Chandra observation reveals that the compact XMM source, thought to be the X-ray pulsar, can be further resolved into a point source surrounded by an elongated axisymmetric nebula with a longitudinal extent of 10′′. The pulsar flux represents only ~1% of the XMM compact source, and its spectrum is well described by a blackbody of temperature kT = 0.2 keV, while the surrounding nebula has a much harder spectrum (Γ = 1.1 for a power-law model). Assuming the origin of the extended emission is a double torus yields ζPSR = 32.5° ± 4.3°. The detection of thermal X-rays from the pulsar may point to a low value of | ζ−α | if this emission originates from a heated polar cap. Independent constraints from geometric light-curve modelling yield α ≲ 55° and ζ ≲ 55°, and 10° ≲ | ζ−α | ≲ 30°. A χ2 fit to the radio light curve yields a best fit at (α,ζPSR) = (22°,8°), with an alternative fit at (α,ζPSR) = (9°,25°) within 3σ. The lack of non-thermal X-ray emission from the pulsar further supports low values for α and ζ under the assumption that X-rays and γ-rays are generated in the same region of the pulsar magnetosphere. Such a geometry would explain, in the standard caustic pulsar model picture, the radio-loud and γ-ray-quiet behaviour of this high Ė/d2 pulsar.
Key words: acceleration of particles / pulsars: individual: PSR J0855-4644 / X-rays: general / methods: miscellaneous
© ESO, 2017
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