The mouse that soared: High-resolution X-ray imaging of the pulsar-powered bow shock G359.23-0.82

B. M. Gaensler*, E. Van Der Swaluw, F. Camilo, V. M. Kaspi, F. K. Baganoff, F. Yusef-Zadeh, R. N. Manchester

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

130 Scopus citations


We present an observation with the Chandra X-Ray Observatory of the unusual radio source G359.23-0.82 ("the Mouse"), along with updated radio timing data from the Parkes radio telescope on the coincident young pulsar J1747-2958. We find that G359.23-0.82 is a very luminous X-ray source [LX(0.5-8.0 keV) = 5 × 1034 ergs s-1 for a distance of 5 kpc] whose morphology consists of a bright head coincident with PSR J1747-2958 plus a 45″ long narrow tail whose power-law spectrum steepens with distance from the pulsar. We thus confirm that G359.23-0.82 is a bow shock pulsar wind nebula powered by PSR J1747-2958; the nebular standoff distance implies that the pulsar is moving with a Mach number of ∼60, suggesting a space velocity ∼600 km s-1 through gas of density ≈0.3 cm-3. We combine the theory of ion-dominated pulsar winds with hydrodynamic simulations of pulsar bow shocks to show that a bright elongated X-ray and radio feature extending 10″ behind the pulsar represents the surface of the wind termination shock. The X-ray and radio "trails" seen in other pulsar bow shocks may similarly represent the surface of the termination shock, rather than particles in the postshock flow as is usually argued. The tail of the Mouse contains two components: a relatively broad region seen only at radio wavelengths, and a narrow region seen in both radio and X-rays. We propose that the former represents material flowing from the wind shock ahead of the pulsar's motion, while the latter corresponds to more weakly magnetized material streaming from the backward termination shock. This study represents the first consistent attempt to apply our understanding of "Crab-like" nebulae to the growing group of bow shocks around high-velocity pulsars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-402
Number of pages20
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 I
StatePublished - Nov 20 2004


  • ISM: individual (G359.23-0.82)
  • Pulsars: individual (PSR J1747-2958)
  • Stars: neutron
  • Stars: winds, outflows

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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