Journal Article

A compact pulsar wind nebula model of the γ-ray-loud binary LS I +61○303

Andrzej A. Zdziarski, Andrii Neronov and Maria Chernyakova

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 403, issue 4, pages 1873-1886
Published in print April 2010 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online April 2010 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
A compact pulsar wind nebula model of the γ-ray-loud binary LS I +61○303

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We study a model of LS I +61°303 in which its radio to TeV emission is due to interaction of a relativistic wind from a young pulsar with the wind from its companion Be star. The detailed structure of the stellar wind plays a critical role in explaining the properties of the system. We assume the fast polar wind is clumpy, which is typical for radiatively driven winds. The clumpiness and some plasma instabilities cause the two winds to mix. The relativistic electrons from the pulsar wind are retained in the moving clumps by inhomogeneities of the magnetic field, which explains the X-ray variability observed on time-scales much shorter than the orbital period. We calculate detailed inhomogeneous spectral models reproducing the average broad-band spectrum from radio to TeV. Given the uncertainties on the magnetic field within the wind and the form of the distribution of relativistic electrons, the X-ray spectrum could be dominated by either Compton or synchrotron emission. The recent Fermi observations constrain the high-energy cut-off in the electron distribution to be at the Lorentz factor of 2 × 104 or ∼108 in the former and latter model, respectively. We provide formulae comparing the losses of the relativistic electrons due to Compton, synchrotron and Coulomb processes versus the distance from the Be star. We calculate the optical depth of the wind to free–free absorption, showing that it will suppress most of the radio emission within the orbit, including the pulsed signal of the rotating neutron star. We point out the importance of Compton and Coulomb heating of the stellar wind within and around the γ-ray emitting region. Then, we find the most likely mechanism explaining the orbital modulation at TeV energies is anisotropy of emission, with relativistic electrons accelerated along the surface of equal ram pressure of the two winds. Pair absorption of the TeV emission suppresses one of the two maxima expected in an orbit.

Keywords: radiation mechanisms: non-thermal; stars: individual: LS I +61°303; gamma-rays: theory; X-rays: binaries; X-rays: individual: LS I +61°303

Journal Article.  12213 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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