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Shedding new light on the Crab with polarized X-rays
KTH, School of Engineering Sciences (SCI), Physics. The Oskar Klein Centre for Cosmoparticle Physics, AlbaNova University Centre, 106 91, Stockholm, Sweden.
KTH, School of Engineering Sciences (SCI), Physics. The Oskar Klein Centre for Cosmoparticle Physics, AlbaNova University Centre, 106 91, Stockholm, Sweden.
KTH, School of Engineering Sciences (SCI), Physics. School of Physics and Astronomy, Cardiff University, Cardiff, CF24 3AA, UK.
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2017 (English)In: Scientific Reports, ISSN 2045-2322, E-ISSN 2045-2322, Vol. 7, no 7816, p. 1-6Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

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

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Nature Publishing Group, 2017. Vol. 7, no 7816, p. 1-6
National Category
Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-219424DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-07390-7ISI: 000407400500048Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85043356252OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-219424DiVA, id: diva2:1162965
Funder
Swedish National Space BoardKnut and Alice Wallenberg FoundationSwedish Research Council
Note

QC 20171212

Available from: 2017-12-05 Created: 2017-12-05 Last updated: 2018-06-19Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Measurements of hard X-ray polarization from the Crab and Cygnus X-1
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Measurements of hard X-ray polarization from the Crab and Cygnus X-1
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Polarimetry provides insights into the emission mechanisms of astrophysical sources by elucidating their magnetic field and geometry. Hard X-rays are produced in \mbox{regions} with strong magnetic fields or strong gravitational effects, which makes them a probe of extreme environments. This thesis describes the design, \mbox{calibration} and data analysis from the balloon-borne hard X-ray polarimeters the PoGOLite Pathfinder and its upgrade PoGO+. These instruments have measured the polari-zation from the Crab nebula and pulsar, and of the black hole binary Cygnus X-1.

Paper I explores to what extent the statistical uncertainties on the polarization parameters are non-Gaussian when the number of photons is low, as tends to be the case for balloon-borne instruments.With this in mind, a Bayesian method is used for data analysis in the subsequent papers. Paper II describes the measurement of the polarization of the Crab system in the 20-120 keV energy range conducted by the PoGOLite Pathfinder. Although the result is modest in its statistical significance it paves the way for the design of the upgraded instrument PoGO+.

The PoGO+ mission was conceived to remedy the shortcomings of the PoGOLite Pathfinder design and observation strategy, as well as the pre-flight calibration, which the focus of Paper III. Significant improvements are made to the detector response model, optimization of data acquisition thresholds, online veto system and to the general calibration procedure. When combined with interspersed target and background measurements, systematic uncertainties are significantly smaller for PoGO+ than for the PoGOLite Pathfinder.

The main scientific results are presented in Papers IV and V for the Crab (20-160 keV) and Cygnus X-1 (20-180 keV), respectively. For the Crab, PoGO+ does not support a rapid increase in the polarization fraction claimed previously. Additionally, the hard X-ray emission must be produced close to the pulsar and possibly in the fine structures of the nebula. This is in agreement with X-ray images from other instruments. For Cygnus X-1, the polarization measurements constrain the geometry by rejecting the model where the hard X-rays are produced in a compact corona close to the black hole and support the extended corona model.

The thesis demonstrates how balloon-borne instruments can be improved over the course of several campaigns and can contribute to the testing of detector design, development of analysis methods and provide new scientific results for bright X-ray sources.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2018. p. 110
Series
TRITA-SCI-FOU ; 2018:14
National Category
Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology
Research subject
Physics; Physics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-228216 (URN)978-91-7729-780-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-05-31, FB42, Roslagstullsbacken 21, AlbaNova Universitetscentrum, Stockholm, 14:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

QC 20180521

Available from: 2018-05-21 Created: 2018-05-18 Last updated: 2018-05-21Bibliographically approved

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