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Galaxies 2018, 6(1), 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/galaxies6010014

Polarimetric Evidence of the First White Dwarf Pulsar: The Binary System AR Scorpii

1
South African Astronomical Observatory, Cape Town 7925, South Africa
2
Department of Physics, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein 9301, South Africa
3
Department of Physics, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 23 October 2017 / Revised: 15 January 2018 / Accepted: 15 January 2018 / Published: 22 January 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polarised Emission from Astrophysical Jets)
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Abstract

The binary star AR Scorpii was recently discovered to exhibit high amplitude coherent variability across the electromagnetic spectrum (ultraviolet to radio) at two closely spaced ∼2 min periods, attributed to the spin period of a white dwarf and the beat period. There is strong evidence (low X-ray luminosity, lack of flickering and absense of broad emission lines) that AR Sco is a detached non-accreting system whose luminosity is dominated by the spin-down power of a white dwarf, due to magnetohydrodynamical (MHD) interactions with its M5 companion. Optical polarimetry has revealed highly pulsed linear polarization on the same periods, reaching a maximum of 40%, consistent with a pulsar-like dipole, with the Stokes Q and U variations reminiscent of the Crab pulsar. These observations, coupled with the spectral energy distribution (SED) which is dominated by non-thermal emission, characteristic of synchrotron emission, support the notion that a strongly magnetic (∼200 MG) white dwarf is behaving like a pulsar, whose magnetic field interacts with the secondary star’s photosphere and magnetosphere. Radio synchrotron emission is produced from the pumping action of the white dwarf’s magnetic field on coronal loops from the M-star companion, while emission at high frequencies (UV/optical/X-ray) comes from the particle wind, driven by large electric potential, again reminiscent of processes seen in neutron star pulsars. View Full-Text
Keywords: pulsars; white dwarfs; polarization pulsars; white dwarfs; polarization
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Buckley, D.A.; Potter, S.B.; Meintjes, P.J.; Marsh, T.R.; Gänsicke, B.T. Polarimetric Evidence of the First White Dwarf Pulsar: The Binary System AR Scorpii. Galaxies 2018, 6, 14.

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