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Title: Magnetic pair creation transparency in gamma-ray pulsars

Magnetic pair creation, γ → e {sup +} e {sup –}, has been at the core of radio pulsar paradigms and central to polar cap models of gamma-ray pulsars for over three decades. The Fermi gamma-ray pulsar population now exceeds 140 sources and has defined an important part of Fermi's science legacy, providing rich information for the interpretation of young energetic pulsars and old millisecond pulsars. Among the population characteristics well established is the common occurrence of exponential turnovers in their spectra in the 1-10 GeV range. These turnovers are too gradual to arise from magnetic pair creation in the strong magnetic fields of pulsar inner magnetospheres. By demanding insignificant photon attenuation precipitated by such single-photon pair creation, the energies of these turnovers for Fermi pulsars can be used to compute lower bounds for the typical altitude of GeV band emission. This paper explores such pair transparency constraints below the turnover energy and updates earlier altitude bound determinations that have been deployed in various Fermi pulsar papers. For low altitude emission locales, general relativistic influences are found to be important, increasing cumulative opacity, shortening the photon attenuation lengths, and also reducing the maximum energy that permits escape of photons frommore » a neutron star magnetosphere. Rotational aberration influences are also explored, and are found to be small at low altitudes, except near the magnetic pole. The analysis presented in this paper clearly demonstrates that including near-threshold physics in the pair creation rate is essential to deriving accurate attenuation lengths and escape energies. The altitude bounds are typically in the range of 2-7 stellar radii for the young Fermi pulsar population, and provide key information on the emission altitude in radio quiet pulsars that do not possess double-peaked pulse profiles. The bound for the Crab pulsar is at a much higher altitude, with the putative detection by MAGIC out to 350-400 GeV implying a lower bound of 310 km to the emission region, i.e., approximately 20% of the light cylinder radius. These results are also extended to the super-critical field domain, where it is found that emission in neurton stars originating below around 10 stellar radii will not appear in the Fermi-LAT band.« less
Authors:
;  [1]
  1. Department of Physics and Astronomy, MS 108, Rice University, Houston, TX 77251 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22365568
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 790; Journal Issue: 1; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; APPROXIMATIONS; CRITICAL FIELD; DETECTION; ELECTRON-POSITRON INTERACTIONS; EMISSION; GAMMA RADIATION; GEV RANGE 100-1000; NEUTRON STARS; OPACITY; PAIR PRODUCTION; PHOTONS; PRECIPITATION; PULSARS; RELATIVISTIC RANGE; VISIBLE RADIATION