Magnetar spin-down glitch clearing the way for FRB-like bursts and a pulsed radio episode

Younes, G. and Baring, M. G. and Harding, A. K. and Enoto, T. and Wadiasingh, Z. and Pearlman, A. B. and Ho, W. C. G. and Guillot, S. and Arzoumanian, Z. and Borghese, A. and Gendreau, K. and Göğüş, Ersin and Güver, T. and Van der Horst, A. J. and Hu, C. P. and Jaisawal, G. K. and Kouveliotou, C. and Lin, L. and Majid, W. A. (2023) Magnetar spin-down glitch clearing the way for FRB-like bursts and a pulsed radio episode. Nature Astronomy, 7 (3). pp. 339-350. ISSN 2397-3366

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Magnetars are a special subset of the isolated neutron star family, with X-ray and radio emission mainly powered by the decay of their immense magnetic fields. Many attributes of magnetars remain poorly understood: spin-down glitches or the sudden reductions in the star’s angular momentum, radio bursts reminiscent of extragalactic fast radio bursts (FRBs) and transient pulsed radio emission lasting months to years. Here we unveil the detection of a large spin-down glitch event (fractional change in spin frequency ∣Δν/ν∣=5.8−1.6+2.6×10−6) from the magnetar SGR 1935+2154 on 5 October 2020 (±1 day). We find no change to the source-persistent surface thermal or magnetospheric X-ray behaviour, nor is there evidence of strong X-ray bursting activity. Yet, in the subsequent days, the magnetar emitted three FRB-like radio bursts followed by a month-long episode of pulsed radio emission. Given the rarity of spin-down glitches and radio signals from magnetars, their approximate synchronicity suggests an association, providing pivotal clues to their origin and triggering mechanisms with ramifications to the broader magnetar and FRB populations. We postulate that impulsive crustal plasma shedding close to the magnetic pole generates a wind that combs out magnetic field lines, rapidly reducing the star’s angular momentum while temporarily altering the magnetospheric field geometry to permit the pair creation needed to precipitate radio emission.
Item Type: Article
Divisions: Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences
Depositing User: Ersin Göğüş
Date Deposited: 16 Apr 2023 16:14
Last Modified: 16 Apr 2023 16:14

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