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Title: CIRCULAR POLARIZATION OF PULSAR WIND NEBULAE AND THE COSMIC-RAY POSITRON EXCESS

Recent observations by the PAMELA and AMS-02 telescopes have uncovered an anomalous rise in the positron fraction at energies above 10 GeV. One possible explanation for this excess is the production of primary electron/positron pairs through electromagnetic cascades in pulsar magnetospheres. This process results in a high multiplicity of electron/positron pairs within the wind-termination shock of pulsar wind nebulae (PWNe). A consequence of this scenario is that no circular polarization should be observed within PWNe, since the contributions from electrons and positrons exactly cancel. Here we note that current radio instruments are capable of setting meaningful limits on the circular polarization of synchrotron radiation in PWNe, which observationally test the model for pulsar production of the local positron excess. The observation of a PWN with detectable circular polarization would cast strong doubt on pulsar interpretations of the positron excess, while observations setting strong limits on the circular polarization of PWNe would lend credence to these models. Finally, we indicate which PWNe are likely to provide the best targets for observational tests of the AMS-02 excess.
Authors:
 [1]
  1. The Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22364328
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 799; Journal Issue: 2; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; COSMIC ELECTRONS; COSMIC POSITRONS; COSMIC RADIATION; GEV RANGE; MULTIPLICITY; NEBULAE; POLARIZATION; PULSARS; STELLAR MAGNETOSPHERES; SYNCHROTRON RADIATION; TELESCOPES