A Correlation Study of Radio Giant Pulses and Very High Energy Photons from the Crab Pulsar
Pulsars (in short for Pulsating Stars) are magnetized, fast rotating neutron stars. The basic picture of a pulsar describes it as a neutron star which has a rotation axis that is not aligned with its magnetic field axis. The emission is assumed to be generated near the magnetic poles of the neutron star and emitted along the open magnetic field lines. Consequently, the corresponding beam of photons is emitted along the magnetic field line axis. The non-alignment of both, the rotation and the magnetic field axis, results in the effect that the emission of the pulsar is only seen if its beam points towards the observer. The emission from a pulsar is therefore perceived as being pulsed although its generation is not. This rather simple geometrical model is commonly referred to as Lighthouse Model and has been widely accepted. However, it does not deliver an explanation of the precise mechanisms behind the emission from pulsars (see below for more details). Nowadays more than 2000 pulsars are known. They are observed at various wavelengths. Multiwavelength studies have shown that some pulsars are visible only at certain wavelengths while the emission from others can be observed throughout large parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. An example of the latter case is the Crab pulsar which is also the main object of interest in this thesis. Originating from a supernova explosion observed in 1054 A.D. and discovered in 1968, the Crab pulsar has been the central subject of numerous studies. Its pulsed emission is visible throughout the whole electromagnetic spectrum which makes it a key figure in understanding the possible mechanisms of multiwavelength emission from pulsars. The Crab pulsar is also well known for its radio emission strongly varying on long as well as on short time scales. While long time scale behaviour from a pulsar is usually examined through the use of its average profile (a profile resulting from averaging of a large number of individual pulses resulting from single rotations), short time scale behaviour is examined via its single pulses. The short time scale anomalous behaviour of its radio emission is commonly referred to as Giant Pulses and represents the central topic of this thesis. While current theoretical approaches place the origin of the radio emission from a pulsar like the Crab near its magnetic poles (Polar Cap Model) as already indicated by the Lighthouse model, its emission at higher frequencies, especially its gamma-ray emission, is assumed to originate further away in the geometrical region surrounding a pulsar which is commonly referred to as a pulsar magnetosphere (Outer Gap Model). Consequently, the respective emission regions are usually assumed not to be connected. However, past observational results from the Crab pulsar represent a contradiction to this assumption. Radio giant pulses from the Crab pulsar have been observed to emit large amounts of energy on very short time scales implying small emission regions on the surface of the pulsar. Such energetic events might also leave a trace in the gamma-ray emission of the Crab pulsar. The aim of this thesis is to search for this connection in the form of a correlation study between radio giant pulses and gamma-photons from the Crab pulsar. To make such a study possible, a multiwavelength observational campaign was organized for which radio observations were independently applied for, coordinated and carried out with the Effelsberg radio telescope and the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope and gamma-ray observations with the Major Atmospheric Imaging Cherenkov telescopes. The corresponding radio and gamma-ray data sets were reduced and the correlation analysis thereafter consisted of three different approaches: 1) The search for a clustering in the differences of the times of arrival of radio giant pulses and gamma-photons; 2) The search for a linear correlation between radio giant pulses and gamma-photons using the Pearson correlation approach; 3) A search for an increase of the gamma-ray flux around occurring radio giant pulses. In the last part of the correlation study an increase of the number of gamma-photons centered on a radio giant pulse by about 17% (in contrast with the number of gamma-photons when no radio giant pulse occurs in the same time window) was discovered. This finding suggests that a new theoretical approach for the emission of young pulsars like the Crab pulsar, is necessary.
correlation; crab pulsar; gamma astronomy; giant pulses; neutron star; radio astronomy