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Gamma-ray binaries: pulsars in disguise ?

Abstract : LS 5039 and LSI +61 303 are unique amongst high-mass X-ray binaries (HMXB) for their spatially-resolved radio emission and their counterpart at >GeV gamma-ray energies, canonically attributed to non-thermal particles in an accretion-powered relativistic jet. The only other HMXB known to emit very high energy (VHE) gamma-rays, PSR B1259-63, harbours a non-accreting millisecond pulsar. I investigate whether the interaction of the relativistic wind from a young pulsar with the wind from its stellar companion, as in PSR B1259-63, constitutes a viable scenario to explain the observations of LS 5039 and LSI +61 303. Emission would arise from the shocked pulsar wind material, which then flows away to large distances in a comet-shape tail, reproducing on a smaller scale what is observed in isolated, high motion pulsars interacting with the ISM. Simple expectations for the SED are derived and are shown to depend on few input parameters. Detailed modelling of the particle evolution is compared to the observations from radio to TeV energies. Acceleration at the shock provides high energy electrons that steadily emit synchrotron in X-rays and inverse Compton scatter stellar light to gamma-rays. Electrons streaming out of the system emit at IR frequencies and below. The overall aspect of the SEDs is adequately reproduced for standard values of the parameters. The morphology of the radio tail can mimic a microquasar jet. Good agreement is found with the published VLBI map of LS 5039 and predictions are made on the expected change in appearance with orbital phase. The pulsar wind scenario can provide a common, viable framework to interpret the emission from all three gamma-ray binaries.
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Contributor : Dominique Girod <>
Submitted on : Saturday, October 7, 2006 - 2:04:27 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, March 5, 2020 - 6:18:44 PM

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G. Dubus. Gamma-ray binaries: pulsars in disguise ?. Astronomy and Astrophysics - A&A, EDP Sciences, 2006, 456, pp.801-817. ⟨10.1051/0004-6361:20054779⟩. ⟨in2p3-00104568⟩



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