General relativistic constraints on emission models of anomalous X-ray pulsars

Simon Dedeo, Dimitrios Psaltis, Ramesh Narayan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Most models of anomalous X-ray pulsars (AXPs) account for the observed X-ray spectra and pulsations by means of radiation processes that occur on the surfaces of neutron stars. For any such model, general relativistic deflection of light severely suppresses the amplitude of the observed pulsations. We calculate the expected pulsation amplitudes of AXPs according to various models and compare the results with observations. We show that the high (≲ 70%) pulse amplitudes observed in some AXPs can be accounted for only if the surface emission is localized (spot radius < 40°) and strongly beamed (e.g., radially peaked with cosn θ′ and n ≳ 2, where θ′ is the angle to the normal). These constraints are incompatible with those cooling and magnetar models in which the observed X-rays originate as thermal emission from the neutron star surface. Accretion models, on the other hand, are compatible with observations for a wide range of parameters. Finally, definitive conclusions cannot be reached on magnetospheric models, since their localization and beaming properties are not well understood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)346-352
Number of pages7
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 PART 1
StatePublished - Sep 20 2001


  • Accretion, accretion disks
  • Relativity
  • Stars: neutron
  • X-rays: stars

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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