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Polarized synchrotron emission from the equatorial current sheet in gamma-ray pulsars

Abstract : Polarization is a powerful diagnostic tool to constrain the site of the high-energy pulsed emission and particle acceleration in gamma-ray pulsars. Recent particle-in-cell simulations of pulsar magnetosphere suggest that high-energy emission results from particles accelerated in the equatorial current sheet emitting synchrotron radiation. In this study, we re-examine the simulation data to compute the phase-resolved polarization properties. We find that the emission is mildly polarized and that there is an anti-correlation between the flux and the degree of linear polarization (on-pulse: ∼15 per cent, off-pulse: ∼30 per cent). The decrease of polarization during pulses is mainly attributed to the formation of caustics in the current sheet. Each pulse of light is systematically accompanied by a rapid swing of the polarization angle due to the change of the magnetic polarity when the line of sight passes through the current sheet. The optical polarization pattern observed in the Crab can be well-reproduced for a pulsar inclination angle ∼60° and an observer viewing angle ∼130°. The predicted high-energy polarization is a robust feature of the current sheet emitting scenario which can be tested by future X-ray and gamma-ray polarimetry instruments.
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Submitted on : Thursday, June 9, 2022 - 11:03:12 AM
Last modification on : Saturday, June 25, 2022 - 3:06:31 AM

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Benoît Cerutti, Jérémy Mortier, Alexander A. Philippov. Polarized synchrotron emission from the equatorial current sheet in gamma-ray pulsars. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters, 2016, 463, pp.L89-L93. ⟨10.1093/mnrasl/slw162⟩. ⟨insu-03691480⟩

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