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Optical pulsations from the anomalous X-ray pulsar 4U0142+61

Kern, B. and Martin, C. (2002) Optical pulsations from the anomalous X-ray pulsar 4U0142+61. Nature, 417 (6888). pp. 527-529. ISSN 0028-0836. doi:10.1038/417527a.

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Anomalous X-ray pulsars (AXPs) differ from ordinary radio pulsars in that their X-ray luminosity is orders of magnitude greater than their rate of rotational energy loss, and so they require an additional energy source. One possibility is that AXPs are highly magnetized neuron stars—or 'magnetars'—having surface magnetic fields greater than 10^(14) G. This would make them similar to the soft y-ray repeaters (SGRs), but alternative models that do not require extreme magnetic fields also exist. An optical counterpart to the AXP 4U0142+61 was recently discovered, consistent with emission from a magnetar, but also from a magnetized hot white dwarf, or an accreting isolated neutron star. Here we report the detection of optical pulsations from 4U0142+61. The pulsed fraction of optical light (27 per cent) is five to ten times greater than that of soft X-rays, from which we conclude that 4U0142+61 is a magnetar. Although this establishes a direct relationship between AXPs and the soft y-ray repeaters, the evolutionary connection between AXPs, SGRs and radio pulsars remains controversial.

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Martin, C.0000-0002-8650-1644
Additional Information:© 2002 Nature Publishing Group. Received 13 December 2001; Accepted 12 April 2002. We thank S. Kaye, the Palomar Observatory staff, D. Kaplan, S. Kulkarni and R. Rutledge for assistance. This work was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the California Institute of Technology.
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Issue or Number:6888
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Official Citation:Optical pulsations from the anomalous X-ray pulsar 4U0142+61 p527 B. Kern and C. Martin doi:10.1038/417527a
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:56242
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:31 Mar 2015 17:47
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 20:56

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