Discovery of an isolated compact object at high galactic latitude

R. E. Rutledge, D. B. Fox, A. H. Shevchuk

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We report the discovery of a compact object at high Galactic latitude. The object was initially identified as a ROSAT All-Sky Survey Bright Source Catalog X-ray source, 1RXS J141256.0+792204, statistically likely to possess a high X-ray to optical flux ratio. Further observations using Swift, Gemini-North, and the Chandra X-Ray Observatory refined the source position and confirmed the absence of any optical counterpart to an X-ray to optical flux ratio of F X(0.1-2.4 keV)/FV > 8700(3 σ). Interpretation of 1RXS J141256.0+792204 - which we have dubbed Calvera - as a typical X-ray-dim isolated neutron star would place it at z ≈ 5.1 kpc above the Galactic disk - in the Galactic halo-implying that it either has an extreme space velocity (vz ≳ 5100 km s-1) or has failed to cool according to theoretical predictions. Interpretations as a persistent anomalous X-ray pulsar or a "compact central object" present conflicts with these classes' typical properties. We conclude that the properties of Calvera are most consistent with those of a nearby (80-260 pc) radio pulsar, similar to the radio millisecond pulsars of 47 Tucanae, with further observations required to confirm this classification. If it is a millisecond pulsar, it is has an X-ray flux equal to the X-ray brightest millisecond pulsar (and so is tied for highest flux); the closest northern hemisphere millisecond pulsar; and potentially the closest known millisecond pulsar in the sky, making it an interesting target for X-ray study, a radio pulsar timing array, and LIGO.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1137-1143
Number of pages7
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 10 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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