Polarization of thermal X-rays from isolated neutron stars

G. G. Pavlov, V. E. Zavlin

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59 Scopus citations


Since the opacity of a magnetized plasma depends on polarization of radiation, the radiation emergent from atmospheres of neutron stars with strong magnetic fields is expected to be strongly polarized. The degree of linear polarization, typically ∼10%-30%, depends on photon energy, effective temperature, and magnetic field. The spectrum of polarization is more sensitive to the magnetic field than the spectrum of intensity. Both the degree of polarization and the position angle vary with the neutron star rotation period so that the shape of polarization pulse profiles depends on the orientation of the rotational and magnetic axes. Moreover, as the polarization is substantially modified by the general relativistic effects, observations of polarization of X-ray radiation from isolated neutron stars provide a new method for evaluating the mass-to-radius ratio of these objects, which is particularly important for elucidating the properties of the superdense matter in the neutron star interiors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1011-1018
Number of pages8
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 PART 1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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