Astronomy and Astrophysics, volume 544A, 100-100 (2012/8-1)
The near-infrared detection of PSR B0540-69 and its nebula.
MIGNANI R.P., DE LUCA A., HUMMEL W., ZAJCZYK A., RUDAK B., KANBACH G. and SLOWIKOWSKA A.
Abstract (from CDS):
The ∼1700 year old PSR B0540-69 in the Large Magellanic Clouds (LMC) is considered the twin of the Crab pulsar because of its similar spin parameters, magnetic field, and energetics. PSR B0540-69 (V∼22.5) is also one of the very few pulsars for which both optical pulsations and polarised emission have been measured. Its optical spectrum is fit by a power-law, ascribed to synchrotron radiation, like for the young Crab and Vela pulsars. At variance with them, however, a double break is required to join the X-ray and optical power-law spectra, with the first one possibly occurring in the near ultraviolet (nUV). Near-infrared (nIR) observations, never performed for PSR B0540-69, are crucial to determine whether the optical power-law spectrum extends to longer wavelengths or a new break occurs, like it happens for both the Crab and Vela pulsars in the mid-infrared (mIR), hinting at an even more complex particle energy and density distribution in the pulsar magnetosphere. We observed PSR B0540-69 in the J, H, and KS bands with the Very Large Telescope (VLT) to detect it, for the first time, in the nIR and characterise its optical-to-nIR spectrum. To disentangle the pulsar emission from that of its pulsar wind nebula (PWN), we obtained high-spatial resolution adaptive optics images with the NAOS-CONICA instrument (NACO). We could clearly identify PSR B0540-69 in our J, H, and KS-band images and measure its flux NACO images and Hubble Space Telescope (HST) optical ones does not reveal any apparent difference in the PWN morphology as a function of wavelength. The PWN optical-to-nIR spectrum is also fit by a single power-law, with spectral index α=0.56±0.03, slightly flatter than the pulsar's. Using NACO at the VLT, we obtained the first detection of PSR B0540-69 and its PWN in the nIR. Due to the small angular scale of the PWN (∼4") only the spatial resolution of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will make it possible to extend the study of the pulsar and PWN spectrum towards the mid-IR.
pulsars: individual: PSR B0540-69 - ISM: supernova remnants
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