First Detection of Polarization in X-Rays for PSR B0540-69 and Its Nebula

IXPE Collaboration

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We report on X-ray polarization measurements of the extragalactic Crab-like PSR B0540-69 and its Pulsar Wind Nebula (PWN) in the Large Magellanic Cloud, using a ∼850 ks Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) exposure. The PWN is unresolved by IXPE. No statistically significant polarization is detected for the image-averaged data, giving a 99% confidence polarization upper limit (MDP99) of 5.3% in the 2–8 keV energy range. However, a phase-resolved analysis detects polarization for both the nebula and pulsar in the 4–6 keV energy range. For the PWN defined as the off-pulse phases, the polarization degree (PD) of (24.5 ± 5.3)% and polarization angle (PA) of (78.1 ± 6.2)° is detected at 4.6σ significance level, consistent with the PA observed in the optical band. In a single on-pulse window, a hint of polarization is measured at 3.8σ with PD of (50.0 ± 13.1)% and PA of (6.2 ± 7.4)°. A “simultaneous” PSR/PWN analysis finds two bins at the edges of the pulse exceeding 3σ PD significance, with PD of (68 ± 20)% and (62 ± 20)%; intervening bins at 2–3σ significance have lower PD, hinting at additional polarization structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number92
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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