X-ray and gamma-ray emissions from rotation powered millisecond pulsars

J. Takata*, K. S. Cheng, Ronald E. Taam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The Fermi Large Area Telescope has revealed that rotation powered millisecond pulsars (MSPs) are a major contributor to the Galactic γ-ray source population. Such pulsars may also be important in modeling the quiescent state of several low-mass X-ray binaries (LMXBs), where optical observations of the companion star suggest the possible existence of rotation powered MSPs. To understand the observational properties of the different evolutionary stages of MSPs, the X-ray and γ-ray emissions associated with the outer gap model are investigated. For rotation powered MSPs, the size of the outer gap and the properties of the high-energy emission are controlled by either the photon-photon pair-creation process or magnetic pair-creation process near the surface. For these pulsars, we find that the outer gap model controlled by the magnetic pair-creation process is preferable in explaining the possible correlations between the γ-ray luminosity or non-thermal X-ray luminosity versus the spin-down power. For the accreting MSPs in quiescent LMXBs, the thermal X-ray emission at the neutron star (NS) surface resulting from deep crustal heating can control the conditions in the outer gap. We argue that the optical modulation observed in the quiescent state of several LMXBs originates from the irradiation of the donor star by γ-rays from the outer gap. In these systems, the irradiation luminosity required for the optical modulation of the source such as SAXJ1808.4-3658 can be achieved for a NS of high mass. Finally, we discuss the high-energy emission associated with an intra-binary shock in black widow systems, e.g., PSRB1957+20.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 20 2012


  • binaries: close
  • magnetic fields
  • pulsars: general
  • stars: neutron

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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