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Title: PSR J0357+3205: the tail of the turtle
Authors: Martino Marelli, Andrea De Luca, David Salvetti, Nicola Sartore, Angelica Sartori, Patrizia Caraveo, Fabio Pizzolato, Pablo M. Saz Parkinson, Andrea Belfiore

Using a new XMM-Newton observation, we have characterised the X-ray properties of the middle-aged radio-quiet gamma-ray pulsar J0357+3205 (named Morla) and its tail. The X-ray emission from the pulsar is consistent with a magnetospheric non-thermal origin plus a thermal emission from a hot spot (or hot spots). The lack of a thermal component from the whole surface makes Morla the coldest neutron star in its age range. We found marginal evidence for a double-peaked modulation of the X-ray emission. The study of the 9'-long tail confirmed the lack of extended emission near the pulsar itself. The tail shows a very asymmetric brightness profile and its spectrum lacks any spatial variation. We found the nebular emission to be inconsistent with a classical bow-shock, ram-pressure dominated pulsar wind nebula. We propose thermal bremsstrahlung as an alternative mechanism for Morla's tail emission. In this scenario, the tail emission comes from the shocked interstellar medium (ISM) material heated up to X-ray temperatures. This can fully explain the peculiar features of the tail, assuming a hot, moderately dense interstellar medium around the pulsar. For a bremsstrahlung-emitting tail, we can estimate the pulsar distance to be between 300 and 900 pc. A pulsar velocity of about 1900 km/s is required - which would make Morla the pulsar with the largest velocity - and high inclination angles (>70 degrees) are preferred. We propose Morla's nebula as the first example of a new "turtle's tail" class of thermally-emitting nebulae associated to high velocity pulsars.

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RE: PSR J0357+3205
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Title: PSR J0357+3205: a fast moving pulsar with a very unusual X-ray trail
Authors: A. De Luca, R. P. Mignani, M. Marelli, D. Salvetti, N. Sartore, A. Belfiore, P. Saz Parkinson, P. A. Caraveo, G. F. Bignami

The middle-aged PSR J0357+3205 is a nearby, radio-quiet, bright gamma-ray pulsar discovered by the Fermi mission. Our previous Chandra observation revealed a huge, very peculiar structure of diffuse X-ray emission, originating at the pulsar position and extending for > 9' on the plane of the sky. To better understand the nature of such a nebula, we have studied the proper motion of the parent pulsar. We performed relative astrometry on Chandra images of the field spanning a time baseline of 2.2 yr, unveiling a significant angular displacement of the pulsar counterpart, corresponding to a proper motion of 0.165"0.030" yr^(-1). At a distance of ~500 pc, the space velocity of the pulsar would be of ~390 km s^(-1) assuming no inclination with respect to the plane of the sky. The direction of the pulsar proper motion is perfectly aligned with the main axis of the X-ray nebula, pointing to a physical, yet elusive link between the nebula and the pulsar space velocity. No optical emission in the H_alpha line is seen in a deep image collected at the Gemini telescope, which implies that the interstellar medium into which the pulsar is moving is fully ionised.

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PSR J0357+3205: A Pulsar and its Mysterious Tail

psrj0357_labeled_sm.jpg

A spinning neutron star is tied to a mysterious tail - or so it seems. Astronomers using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have found that this pulsar, known as PSR J0357+3205 (or PSR J0357 for short), apparently has a long, X-ray bright tail streaming away from it.
This composite image shows Chandra data in blue and Digitized Sky Survey data in yellow. The position of the pulsar is at the upper right end of the tail. The two bright sources lying near the lower left end of the tail are both thought to be unrelated background objects located outside our galaxy.
PSR J0357 was originally discovered by the Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope in 2009. Astronomers calculate that the pulsar lies about 1,600 light years from Earth and is about half a million years old, which makes it roughly middle-aged for this type of object.
If the tail is at the same distance as the pulsar then it stretches for 4.2 light years in length. This would make it one of the longest X-ray tails ever associated with a so-called "rotation- powered" pulsar, a class of pulsar that get its power from the energy lost as the rotation of the pulsar slows down. (Other types of pulsars include those driven by strong magnetic fields and still others that are powered by material falling onto the neutron star.)

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Title: Discovery of a faint X-ray counterpart and of a parsec-long X-ray tail for the middle-aged, gamma-ray only pulsar PSR J0357+3205
Authors: A. De Luca, M. Marelli, R.P. Mignani, P.A. Caraveo, W. Hummel, S. Collins, A. Shearer, P.M. Saz Parkinson, A. Belfiore, G.F. Bignami

The Large Area Telescope (LAT) onboard the Fermi satellite opened a new era for pulsar astronomy, detecting gamma-ray pulsations from more than 60 pulsars, ~40% of which are not seen at radio wavelengths. One of the most interesting sources discovered by LAT is PSR J0357+3205, a radio-quiet, middle-aged (tau_C ~0.5 Myr) pulsar standing out for its very low spin-down luminosity (Erot ~6x10^33 erg/s), indeed the lowest among non-recycled gamma-ray pulsars. A deep X-ray observation with Chandra (0.5-10 keV), coupled with sensitive optical/infrared ground-based images of the field, allowed us to identify PSR J0357+3205 as a faint source with a soft spectrum, consistent with a purely non-thermal emission (photon index Gamma=2.530.25). The absorbing column (NH=84x10^20 cm^-2) is consistent with a distance of a few hundred parsecs. Moreover, the Chandra data unveiled a huge (9 arcmin long) extended feature apparently protruding from the pulsar. Its non-thermal X-ray spectrum points to synchrotron emission from energetic particles from the pulsar wind, possibly similar to other elongated X-ray tails associated with rotation-powered pulsars and explained as bow-shock pulsar wind nebulae (PWNe). However, energetic arguments, as well as the peculiar morphology of the diffuse feature associated with PSR J0357+3205 make the bow-shock PWN interpretation rather challenging.

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