On the age of PSR B 1509-58
Abastumani Astrophysical Observatory, Georgian Academy of Sciences, A.Kazbegi ave. 2-a, Tbilisi 380060, Georgia
2 Sternberg State Astronomical Institute, Universitetskij Prospect 13, Moscow 119899, Russia
Accepted: 17 May 2001
It is generally accepted that the PSR B 1509-58 is associated with the supernova remnant (SNR) MSH 15-52 (G 320.4-01.2). The spin-down age of the pulsar is 1700 years, while the size and the general appearance of the SNR suggest that this system is much older. A few possible explanations of this discrepancy have been put forward. We offer an alternative one and suggest that the high spin-down rate of the pulsar characterizes only a relatively short period of its (present) spin history, and that the enhanced braking torque is connected with the interaction between the pulsar's magnetosphere and the dense matter of a circumstellar clump (created during the late evolutionary stages of the supernova (SN) progenitor star). Our suggestion implies that the "true" age of PSR B 1509-58 could be much larger than the spin-down age, and therefore the SNR MSH 15-52 is a middle-aged remnant similar to the Vela SNR (G 263.9-3.3). We also suggest that the dense (neutral) gas of the circumstellar clump could be responsible for the enhanced neutral hydrogen absorption towards PSR B 1509-58, and that the optical emission of an optical counterpart for PSR B 1509-58 should rather be attributed to a bow shock around this pulsar than to the pulsar itself.
Key words: stars: neutron / pulsars: individual: B 1509-58 / ISM: bubbles / ISM: individual objects: MSH 15-52 / ISM: supernova remnants
© ESO, 2001