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XMM-Newton sees dust-scattering rings of the magnetar 1E 1547.0-5408

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About this Image

XMM-Newton X-ray image (red, green, and blue colors indicate X-ray of low, intermediate, and high energy, respectively) of the field containing the magnetar 1E 1547.0-5408 taken by the EPIC camera on board XMM-Newton on 2009 February 3-4. Magnetars are the neutron stars with the highest known magnetic field in the Universe and are observed as relatively bright X-ray sources, that sometimes emit bursts of the duration of less than a second. 1E 1547.0-5408 is the bright star at the center of the image, around which three concentric rings can be observed (the brightest has a radius of 3 arcmin and the two fainter ones of 5.5 and 7 arcmin). These rings are the result of the scattering of an extremely bright burst by three dust clouds located in our Galaxy along the line of sight towards 1E 1547.0-5408. The short burst was emitted by the magnetar on 2009 January 22 but its echo was still detectable by XMM-Newton after many days as X-ray rings due to the longer path taken by the scattered radiation to reach us. From the analysis of the X-ray rings observed by XMM-Newton and in previous observations by the Swift satellite, we could derive the distance of the magnetar and of the dust clouds, the intensity of the burst producing the rings and we could constrain some properties of the interstellar dust.

Investigator(s):  A. Tiengo, G. Vianello, P. Esposito, S. Mereghetti, A. Giuliani, E. Costantini, G. L. Israel, L. Stella, R. Turolla, S. Zane, N. Rea, D. Gotz, F. Bernardini, A. Moretti, P. Romano, M. Ehle, N. Gehrels

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XMM-Newton; Europe's X-Ray Observatory
Last update: 09-Oct-2013 by