NASA Insignia
Astrophysical Extremes and Life Cycles of the Elements: Opportunities from the MeV Gamma-ray Sky

Exploring Hidden Emission from Neutron Stars

Dr. Alice K. Harding

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Neutron stars, with their extreme densities and magnetic fields, display a great variety of emission characteristics and behaviors. They produce emission across the entire spectrum, but the energy range between 0.1 - 10 MeV is completely unexplored with the exception of a few sources. Opening this spectral window holds the potential to solve a number of puzzles. Among these is a population of rotation-powered pulsars (MeV pulsars) whose spectral energy appears to peak at MeV energies but are unseen at radio and GeV energies. The connection between different kinds of neutron stars, such as magnetars and rotation-powered pulsars, is a decades-old mystery. Phase-resolved measurement of the so-far undetected high-energy cutoffs of magnetars, and rotation-powered pulsars during magnetar-like outbursts, can probe their twisted magnetic fields and possibly detect evidence of exotic processes such as photon splitting.