Soft X-ray spectral fits of Geminga with model neutron star atmospheres

R. D. Meyer, G. G. Pavlov, P. Mészáros

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The spectrum of the soft X-ray pulsar Geminga consists of two components, a softer one which can be interpreted as thermal-like radiation from the surface of the neutron star, and a harder one interpreted as radiation from a polar cap heated by relativistic particles. We have fitted the soft spectrum using a detailed magnetized hydrogen atmosphere model. The fitting parameters are the hydrogen column density, the effective temperature Teff, the gravitational redshift z, and the distance to radius ratio, for different values of the magnetic field B. The best fits for this model are obtained when B ≲lt; 1 × 1012 G and z lies on the upper boundary of the explored range (z = 0.45). The values of Teff ≃ (2-3) ×105 K are a factor of 2-3 times lower than the value of Teff obtained for blackbody fits with the same z. The lower Teff increases the compatibility with some proposed schemes for fast neutrino cooling of neutron stars (NSs) by the direct Urca process or by exotic matter, but conventional cooling cannot be excluded. The hydrogen atmosphere fits also imply a smaller distance to Geminga than that inferred from a blackbody fit. An accurate evaluation of the distance would require a better knowledge of the ROSAT PSPC response to the low-energy region of the incident spectrum. Our modeling of the soft component with a cooler magnetized atmosphere also implies that the hard-component fit requires a characteristic temperature which is higher (by a factor of ∼2-3) and a surface area which is smaller (by a factor of ∼103), compared to previous blackbody fits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-275
Number of pages11
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 20 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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