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Galaxies 2018, 6(3), 76;

Strongly Magnetized Sources: QED and X-ray Polarization

Department of Physics and Astronomy, 6224 Agricultural Road, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 17 May 2018 / Revised: 17 July 2018 / Accepted: 17 July 2018 / Published: 21 July 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Bright Future of Astronomical X-ray Polarimetry)
PDF [572 KB, uploaded 25 July 2018]


Radiative corrections of quantum electrodynamics cause a vacuum threaded by a magnetic field to be birefringent. This means that radiation of different polarizations travels at different speeds. Even in the strong magnetic fields of astrophysical sources, the difference in speed is small. However, it has profound consequences for the extent of polarization expected from strongly magnetized sources. We demonstrate how the birefringence arises from first principles, show how birefringence affects the polarization state of radiation and present recent calculations for the expected polarization from magnetars and X-ray pulsars. View Full-Text
Keywords: quantum electrodynamics: radiative corrections; magnetic fields; neutron stars; X-ray polarization quantum electrodynamics: radiative corrections; magnetic fields; neutron stars; X-ray polarization

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Heyl, J.; Caiazzo, I. Strongly Magnetized Sources: QED and X-ray Polarization. Galaxies 2018, 6, 76.

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