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Discovery of the binary pulsar PSRB1259-63 in very-high-energy gamma rays around periastron with HESS

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posted on 24.10.2012, 08:53 by F. Aharonian, A. G. Akhperjanian, K. M. Aye, A. R. Bazer-Bachi, M. Beilicke, W. Benbow, D. Berge, P. Berghaus, K. Bernlohr, C. Boisson, O. Bolz, S. Schlenker, R. Schlickeiser, C. Schuster, U. Schwanke, M. Siewert, O. Skjaeraasen, H. Sol, R. Steenkamp, C. Stegmann, J. P. Tavernet, R. Terrier, C. G. Theoret, M. Tluczykont, G. Vasileiadis, C. Venter, P. Vincent, H. J. Volk, S. J. Wagner, I. Braun, F. Breitling, A. M. Brown, J. B. Gordo, P. M. Chadwick, L. M. Chounet, R. Cornils, L. Costamante, B. Degrange, A. Djannati-Atai, L. O. Drury, G. Dubus, D. Emmanoulopoulos, P. Espigat, F. Feinstein, P. Fleury, G. Fontaine, Y. Fuchs, S. Funk, Y. A. Gallant, B. Giebels, S. Gillessen, J. F. Glicenstein, P. Goret, C. Hadjichristidis, M. Hauser, G. Heinzelmann, G. Henri, G. Hermann, J. A. Hinton, W. Hofmann, M. Holleran, D. Horns, de Jager O. C., S. Johnston, B. Khelifi, J. G. Kirk, N. Komin, A. Konopelko, IJ. Latham, Le Gallou R., A. Lemiere, M. Lemoine-Goumard, N. Leroy, O. Martineau-Huynh, T. Lohse, A. Marcowith, C. Masterson, T. J. L. McComb, de Naurois M., S. J. Nolan, A. Noutsos, K. J. Orford, J. L. Osborne, M. Ouchrif, M. Panter, G. Pelletier, S. Pita, G. Puhlhofer, M. Punch, B. C. Raubenheimer, M. Raue, J. Raux, S. M. Rayner, I. Redondo, A. Reimer, O. Reimer, J. Ripken, L. Rob, L. Rolland, G. Rowell, V. Sahakian, L. Sauge
We report the discovery of very-high-energy (VHE) $\gamma$-ray emission of the binary system PSR B1259-63 / SS 2883 of a radio pulsar orbiting a massive, luminous Be star in a highly eccentric orbit. The observations around the 2004 periastron passage of the pulsar were performed with the four 13 m Cherenkov telescopes of the HESS experiment, recently installed in Namibia and in full operation since December 2003. Between February and June 2004, a $\gamma$-ray signal from the binary system was detected with a total significance above $13\sigma$. The flux was found to vary significantly on timescales of days which makes PSR B1259-63 the first variable galactic source of VHE $\gamma$-rays observed so far. Strong emission signals were observed in pre- and post-periastron phases with a flux minimum around periastron, followed by a gradual flux decrease in the months after. The measured time-averaged energy spectrum above a mean threshold energy of 380 GeV can be fitted by a simple power law $F_0(E/1\,\rm TeV)^{-\Gamma}$ with a photon index $\Gamma = 2.7\pm0.2_\mathrm{stat}\pm0.2_\mathrm{sys}$ and flux normalisation $F_0 = (1.3 \pm 0.1_\mathrm{stat} \pm 0.3_\mathrm{sys}) \times 10^{-12}\,\rm TeV^{-1}\,\rm cm^{-2}\,\rm s^{-1}$. This detection of VHE $\gamma$-rays provides unambiguous evidence for particle acceleration to multi-TeV energies in the binary system. In combination with coeval observations of the X-ray synchrotron emission by the RXTE and INTEGRAL instruments, and assuming the VHE $\gamma$-ray emission to be produced by the inverse Compton mechanism, the magnetic field strength can be directly estimated to be of the order of 1 G.



Astronomy & Astrophysics, 2005, 442 (1), pp. 1-10


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