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1E 1207.4-5209

Title: HST and VLT observations of the neutron star 1E 1207.4-5209
Authors: A. De Luca, R.P. Mignani, A. Sartori, W. Hummel, P.A. Caraveo, S. Mereghetti, G.F. Bignami

1E 1207.4-5209, the peculiar Central Compact object in the G296.5+10.0 supernova remnant, has been proposed to be an "anti-magnetar" - a young neutron star born with a weak dipole field. Accretion, possibly of supernova fallback material, has also been invoked to explain a large surface temperature anisotropy as well as the generation of peculiar cyclotron absorption features superimposed to its thermal spectrum. Interestingly enough, a faint optical/infrared source was proposed as a possible counterpart to 1E 1207.4-5209, but later questioned, based on coarse positional coincidence. Considering the large offset of 1E 1207.4-5209 with respect to the center of its host supernova remnant, the source should move at ~70 mas/yr. Thus, we tested the association by measuring the proper motion of the proposed optical counterpart. Using HST observations spanning 3.75 years, we computed a 3 sigma upper limit of 7 mas/yr. Absolute astrometry on the same HST data set also places the optical source significantly off the 99% confidence Chandra position. This allows us to safely rule out the association. Using the HST data set, coupled to ground-based observations collected at the ESO/VLT, we set the deepest limits ever obtained to the optical/infrared emission from 1E 1207.4-5209. By combining such limits to the constraints derived from X-ray timing, we rule out accretion as the source of the thermal anisotropy of the neutron star.

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