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VLT polarimetry observations of the middle-aged pulsar PSR B0656+14
Moran, Paul; Shearer, Andrew
Context. Optical polarisation measurements are key tests for different models of the pulsar magnetosphere. Furthermore, comparing the relative orientation of the phase-averaged linear polarisation direction and the pulsar proper motion vector may unveil a peculiar alignment, clearly seen in the Crab pulsar.Aims. Our goal is to obtain the first measurement of the phase-averaged optical linear polarisation of the fifth brightest optical pulsar, PSR B0656+14, which also has a precisely measured proper motion, and to verify a possible alignment between the polarisation direction and the proper motion vector.Methods. We carried out observations with the Very Large Telescope (VLT) to measure the phase-averaged optical polarisation degree (PD) and position angle (PA) of PSR B0656+14.Results. We measured a PD of 11.9% +/- 5.5% and a PA of 125.8 degrees +/- 13.2 degrees, measured east of north. Albeit of marginal significance, this is the first measurement of the phase-averaged optical PD for this pulsar. Moreover, we found that the PA of the phase-averaged polarisation vector is close to that of the pulsar proper motion (93.12 degrees +/- 0.38 degrees).Conclusions. Deeper observations are needed to confirm our polarisation measurement of PSR B0656+14, whereas polarisation measurements for more pulsars will better assess possible correlations of the polarisation degree with the pulsar parameters. European Commission Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) grant agreement No. 267251, Irish Research Council (IRC), National Science Centre grant Dec-2011/02/A/ST9/00256 and the Polish National Science Centre grant Dec-2011/03/D/ST9/00656
Keyword(s): PSR-B0656+14; B0540-69; Pulsars; PSR B0656+14; Individual pulsars; Polarization; Optical polarization; Velocity vextors; Radio emission; Crab nebula; Rotation; Alignment; Physics
Publication Date:
2016
Type: Journal article
Peer-Reviewed: Yes
Language(s): English
Contributor(s): |~|
Institution: NUI Galway
Publisher(s): EDP Sciences
File Format(s): application/pdf
First Indexed: 2016-04-10 09:20:07 Last Updated: 2016-12-21 09:20:04