Rainbow pulsars

Published in Astronomy
Rainbow pulsars

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Pulsars are highly magnetized and rapidly rotating neutron stars. They are identified as such when their highly beamed emission wash over Earth and are detected by our telescopes as pulses. While traditionally detected in radio wavelengths, pulsars emit across the electromagnetic spectrum and they have been identified through their high-energy emission, both in X-rays and gamma-rays. Diego Torres presents a four-parameter model that can self-consistently explain their non-thermal high-energy emission over seven orders of magnitude (from a 1000 eV to 100 GeV).

The Torres model combines the curvature and synchrotron radiation from particles that are accelerated in the magnetosphere of the pulsar. Continuous exploration of the 4-parameter-space shows that these 4 parameters can explain a variety of pulsar emission properties, including cut-offs seen in some pulsars at very high energies, as well as the flattening of the X-ray emission at low energies.

In this alternative cover suggestion for our March issue, the magnetic field lines around a pulsar are reimagined in different colours and different pitch angles to create a mesmerizing effect.

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