Extreme Ultraviolet Emission from Neutron Stars

R.S. Foster, J. Edelstein, S. Bowyer

Proceedings of IAU Colloquium 152: Astrophysics in the Extreme Ultraviolet, 1996

Abstract

We summarize the detections of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) emission from neutron stars. Three firm detections have been made of spin-powered pulsars: the aged millisecond pulsar PSR J0437-4715, the middle-aged X-ray pulsar Geminga, and the radio pulsar PSR B0656+14. These observations allow us to evaluate both power-law and thermal-law emission models as the source of the EUV flux. For the case of PSR B0656+14 the lack of flux modulation with pulse period argues that the EUV radiation originates from the cooling neutron star surface rather than from a hot polar cap. If the emission is from a thermalized neutron star surface, then limits can be placed on the surface temperature. For the case of Geminga we can explain the observed EUV flux using thermal models that are consistent with standard neutron cooling scenarios. We also have a weak indication that the EUV emission from Geminga is pulsed in a manner consistent with the lowest energy channel observed with ROSAT. For the case of the millisecond pulsar PSR J0437-4715 standard neutron star cooling models require surface re-heating. We compare different heating models to the data on this object. We rule out re-heating by crust-core friction, and find that models for the accretion from the interstellar medium, accretion from the white dwarf companion and a particle-wind nebula do not account for the EUV luminosity. Models of pulsar re-heating by magnetic monopole catalysis of nucleon decay are used to establish new limits to the flux of monopoles in the Galaxy. A single power-law source with properties derived from X-ray data cannot explain the EUV flux from PSR J0437-4715. The strongest model for explaining the EUV emission consists of a large ~3 km^2 polar cap heated from particle production in the pulsar magnetic field. We consider the prospects for detecting other neutron stars in the extreme ultraviolet.

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