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Z. Wang, D. Chakrabarty, D. L. Kaplan (MIT)
We have detected of a debris disk around an isolated young neutron star, specifically the anomalous X-ray pulsar 4U 0142+61, using Spitzer data. There is a clear signature of thermal emission from a cool, dust disk in the mid-IR, and it is well-fit by an X-ray heated disk model (a passive, irradiated disk, not an accretion disk). As the estimated lifetime of the disk (> 1 Myr) significantly exceeds the spin-down age of the pulsar, this may well be the first detection of a supernova fallback disk. We also observed several radio-quiet NSs in very young supernova remnants (namely, Cas A, Pup A, RCW 103, and PKS 1209-52) with Spitzer, for the purpose of searching for fallback disks, but no counterparts were found for them. However, a comparison of their mid-IR/X-ray flux ratios to that of 4U 0142+61 indicates that the non-detection could be due to their relatively low X-ray luminosities.
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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #4
© 2005. The American Astronomical Soceity.