Astronomy and Astrophysics, volume 486, 273-282 (2008/7-4)
Optical identification of the 3C 58 pulsar wind nebula.
SHIBANOV Yu.A., LUNDQVIST N., LUNDQVIST P., SOLLERMAN J. and ZYUZIN D.
Abstract (from CDS):
The Crab-like supernova remnant 3C 58 contains the young pulsar PSR J0295+6449, which powers a radio plerion and a compact torus-like pulsar wind nebula visible in X-rays. We have performed deep optical imaging of the 3C 58 field to detect the optical counterpart of the pulsar and its wind nebula. The imaging was carried out with the Nordic Optical Telescope. We also analyzed the archival images of the field obtained with the Chandra/ACIS-S and HRC-S in X-rays and with the Spitzer/IRAC in the mid-infrared. We detect a faint extended elliptical optical object with B=24.06±0.08mag and V=23.11±0.04mag, whose center and peak brightness position are consistent at the sub-arcsecond level with the position of the pulsar. The morphology of the object and the orientation of its major axis are in excellent agreement with the torus region of the pulsar wind nebula seen almost edge on in the X-rays, although its extension is only about a half of what is in X-rays. This suggests that in the optical we see only the brightest central part of the torus nebula with the pulsar. The position and morphology of the object are also practically identical to the counterpart of the torus region recently detected in the mid-infrared bands. We do not resolve any point-like source within the nebula that could be identified with the pulsar and estimate that the contribution of the pulsar to the observed optical flux is ≲10%. Using the archival Chandra/ACIS-S data we analyzed the spectrum of the pulsar+nebula X-ray emission extracted from the spatial region constrained by the optical/infrared source position and extent and find that a single absorbed power law provides an acceptable spectral fit. Combining this fit with the optical and infrared fluxes of the detected candidate torus nebula counterpart, we compile a tentative multi-wavelength spectrum of the central part of the pulsar nebula. Within the uncertainties of the interstellar extinction towards 3C 58, it is reminiscent of either the Crab or PSR B0540-69 pulsar wind nebula spectra. The position, morphology, and spectral properties of the detected source strongly suggest that it is the optical/mid-infrared counterpart of the 3C 58 pulsar + its wind nebula system. This makes 3C 58 the third member, together with the Crab and PSR B0540-69, of such a system as identified in the optical and mid-infrared.