Light-curve Modelling Constraints On The Obliquities And Aspect Angles Of The Young Fermi Pulsars
Astronomy & Astrophysics
In more than four years of observation the Large Area Telescope on board the Fermi satellite has identified pulsed gamma-ray emission from more than 80 young or middle-aged pulsars, in most cases providing light curves with high statistics. Fitting the observed profiles with geometrical models can provide estimates of the magnetic obliquity alpha and of the line of sight angle zeta, yielding estimates of the radiation beaming factor and radiated luminosity. Using different gamma-ray emission geometries (Polar Cap, Slot Gap, Outer Gap, One Pole Caustic) and core plus cone geometries for the radio emission, we fit gamma-ray light curves for 76 young or middle-aged pulsars and we jointly fit their gamma-ray plus radio light curves when possible. We find that a joint radio plus gamma-ray fit strategy is important to obtain (alpha,zeta) estimates that can explain simultaneously detectable radio and gamma-ray emission: when the radio emission is available, the inclusion of the radio light curve in the fit leads to important changes in the (alpha,zeta) solutions. The most pronounced changes are observed for Outer Gap and One Pole Caustic models for which the gamma-ray only fit leads to underestimated alpha or zeta when the solution is found to the left or to the right of the main alpha-zeta plane diagonal respectively. The intermediate-to-high altitude magnetosphere models, Slot Gap, Outer Gap, and One pole Caustic, are favoured in explaining the observations. We find no apparent evolution of a on a time scale of 10(6) years. For all emission geometries our derived gamma-ray beaming factors are generally less than one and do not significantly evolve with the spin-down power. A more pronounced beaming factor vs. spin-down power correlation is observed for Slot Gap model and radio-quiet pulsars and for the Outer Gap model and radio-loud pulsars. The beaming factor distributions exhibit a large dispersion that is less pronounced for the Slot Gap case and that decreases from radio-quiet to radio-loud solutions. For all models, the correlation between gamma-ray luminosity and spin-down power is consistent with a square root dependence. The gamma-ray luminosities obtained by using the beaming factors estimated in the framework of each model do not exceed the spin-down power. This suggests that assuming a beaming factor of one for all objects, as done in other studies, likely overestimates the real values. The data show a relation between the pulsar spectral characteristics and the width of the accelerator gap. The relation obtained in the case of the Slot Gap model is consistent with the theoretical prediction.
Published in: Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 575, Issue 3, March 1, 2015.