Isolated neutron stars: magnetic fields, distances, and spectra

Conference paper


We present timing measurements, astrometry, and high-resolution spectra of a number of nearby, thermally emitting, isolated neutron stars. We use these to infer magnetic field strengths and distances, but also encounter a number of puzzles. We discuss three specific ones in detail: (i) For RX J0720.4-3125 and RX J1308.6+2127, the characteristic ages are in excess of 1 Myr, while their temperatures and kinematic ages indicate that they are much younger; (ii) For RX J1856.5-3754, the brightness temperature for the optical emission is in excess of that measured at X-ray wavelengths for reasonable neutron-star radii; (iii) For RX J0720.4-3125, the spectrum changed from an initially featureless state to one with an absorption feature, yet there was only a relatively small change in T eff. Furthermore, we attempt to see whether the spectra of all seven sources, in six of which absorption features have now been found, can be understood in the context of strongly magnetised hydrogen atmospheres. We find that the energies of the absorption features can be reproduced, but that it remains puzzling that, for J0720.4-3125 specifically, the spectrum was featureless in one state, and that, generally, the spectra do not have high-energy tails that are harder than the Wien-like ones obseved.


Atomic processes and interactions Stellar atmospheres Neutron stars 


95.30.Dr 97.10.Ex 97.60.Jd 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Astronomy & AstrophysicsUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space ResearchMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA

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