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A new nearby pulsar wind nebula overlapping the RX J0852.0−4622 supernova remnant

Abstract : Context. Energetic pulsars can be embedded in a nebula of relativistic leptons that is powered by the dissipation of the rotational energy of the pulsar. The object PSR J0855−4644 is an energetic and fast-spinning pulsar (Ė = 1.1 × 1036 erg s-1, P = 65 ms) discovered near the southeast rim of the supernova remnant (SNR) RX J0852.0−4622 (aka Vela Jr) by the Parkes multibeam survey. The position of the pulsar is in spatial coincidence with an enhancement in X-rays and TeV γ-rays, which could be due to its putative pulsar wind nebula (PWN). Aims. The purpose of this study is to search for diffuse non-thermal X-ray emission around PSR J0855−4644 to test for the presence of a PWN and to estimate the distance to the pulsar.Methods. An X-ray observation was carried out with the XMM-Newton satellite to constrain the properties of the pulsar and its nebula. The absorption column density derived in X-rays from the pulsar and from different regions of the SNR rim was compared with the absorption derived from the atomic (HI) and molecular (12CO) gas distribution along the corresponding lines of sight to estimate the distance to the pulsar and to the SNR. Results. The observation has revealed the X-ray counterpart of the pulsar together with surrounding extended emission, thus confirming the existence of a PWN. The comparison of column densities provided an upper limit to the distance to the pulsar PSR J0855−4644 and the SNR RX J0852.0−4622 (d ≤ 900 pc). Although both objects are at compatible distances, we rule out that the pulsar and the SNR are associated. With this revised distance, PSR J0855 − 4644 is the second most energetic pulsar, after the Vela pulsar, within a radius of 1 kpc and could therefore contribute to the local cosmic-ray e−/e+ spectrum.
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Fabio Acero, Y. Gallant, Jean Ballet, M. Renaud, R. Terrier. A new nearby pulsar wind nebula overlapping the RX J0852.0−4622 supernova remnant. Astronomy and Astrophysics - A&A, EDP Sciences, 2013, 551, pp.A7. ⟨10.1051/0004-6361/201220799⟩. ⟨hal-01094458⟩



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