We observed PSR J0437-4715 with the FUV-MAMA detector of the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrometer (STIS) to measure the pulsar's spectrum and pulsations. For the first time, UV emission from a millisecond pulsar has been detected. The measured flux, (2.0 ± 0.2) × 10-15 ergs s-1 cm-2 in the 1150-1700 Å range, corresponds to the luminosity LFUV = (4.7 ± 0.5) × 1027 ergs s-1, for the distance of 140 pc and negligible interstellar extinction. The shape of the observed spectrum suggests thermal emission from the neutron star surface with a surprisingly high temperature of about 1 × 105 K, above the upper limit on the surface temperature of the younger "ordinary" pulsar J0108-1431. For the few-Gigayear-old J0437-4715, such a temperature requires a heating mechanism to operate. The spectrum of J0437-4715 shows marginal evidence of an emission line at 1372 Å, which might be a gravitationally redshifted Zeeman component of the hydrogen Lyα line in a magnetic field of ∼7 × 108 G. No pulsations are detected, with a 3 σ upper limit of 50% on the pulsed fraction.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science