Observation of a pulsar wind

CCD polarimetry of the Crab Nebula

F. C. Michel, Paul Scowen, R. J. Dufour, J. J. Hester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Stokes parameters have been extracted from CCD images of the Crab Nebula in polarized light and recombined to give images of the nebula in totally polarized light and totally unpolarized light. Images in totally polarized light show dominant emission in an hour-glass structure. Theoretical expectations on general grounds predict a predominantly azimuthal magnetic field about the pulsar spin axis. Synchrotron radiation from energetic electrons with a range of pitch angles ∼90°, when viewed off-axis, naturally produces an hour-glass radiation pattern. Much of the remaining structure: "scalloping" of the outer reaches of the synchrotron nebula about the edges and depolarization across the face of the nebula seems plausibly interpreted in terms of interaction with the filamentary structure. In effect, the filaments appear to form a conducting "cage" from which the pulsar wind is attempting to escape with the wind structure thereby "pooching" out between dense filaments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)463-467
Number of pages5
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume368
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 20 1991
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Crab nebula
polarimetry
nebulae
pulsars
polarized light
crab
charge coupled devices
filaments
scalloping
glass
pitch (inclination)
depolarization
escape
synchrotron radiation
synchrotrons
conduction
energetics
radiation
magnetic field
magnetic fields

Keywords

  • Nebulae: Crab Nebula
  • Polarization
  • Pulsars
  • Stars: winds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Cite this

Observation of a pulsar wind : CCD polarimetry of the Crab Nebula. / Michel, F. C.; Scowen, Paul; Dufour, R. J.; Hester, J. J.

In: Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 368, No. 2, 20.02.1991, p. 463-467.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Michel, F. C. ; Scowen, Paul ; Dufour, R. J. ; Hester, J. J. / Observation of a pulsar wind : CCD polarimetry of the Crab Nebula. In: Astrophysical Journal. 1991 ; Vol. 368, No. 2. pp. 463-467.
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