High-energy X-ray imaging of the pulsar wind nebula MSH 15-52: constraints on particle acceleration and transport

Hongjun An, Kristin K. Madsen, Stephen P. Reynolds, Victoria M. Kaspi, Fiona A. Harrison, Steven E. Boggs, Finn Erland Christensen, William W. Craig, Chris L. Fryer, Brian W. Grefenstette, Charles J. Hailey, Kaya Mori, Daniel Stern, William W. Zhang

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    We present the first images of the pulsar wind nebula (PWN) MSH 15−52 in the hard X-ray band (8 keV), as measured with the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR). Overall, the morphology of the PWN as measured by NuSTAR in the 3–7 keV band is similar to that seen in Chandra high-resolution imaging. However, the spatial extent decreases with energy, which we attribute to synchrotron energy losses as the particles move away from the shock. The hard-band maps show a relative deficit of counts in the northern region toward the RCW 89 thermal remnant, with significant asymmetry.We find that the integrated PWN spectra measured with NuSTAR and Chandra suggest that there is a spectral break at 6 keV, which may be explained by a break in the synchrotron-emitting electron distribution at ∼200 TeV and/or imperfect cross calibration. We also measure spatially resolved spectra, showing that the spectrum of the PWN softens away from the central pulsar B1509−58, and that there exists a roughly sinusoidal variation of spectral hardness in the azimuthal direction. We discuss the results using particle flow models.We find non-monotonic structure in the variation with distance of spectral hardness within 50 of the pulsar moving in the jet direction, which may imply particle and magnetic-field compression by magnetic hoop stress as previously suggested for this source. We also present two-dimensional maps of spectral parameters and find an interesting shell-like structure in the NH map.We discuss possible origins of the shell-like structure and their implications.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number90
    JournalAstrophysical Journal
    Issue number2
    Number of pages14
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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