Toward Constraining Axions with Polarimetric Observations of the Isolated Neutron Star RX J1856.5-3754.
ZHURAVLEV A., TAVERNA R. and TUROLLA R.
Abstract (from CDS):
Photon-axion mixing can create observable signatures in the thermal spectra of isolated, cooling neutron stars. Their shape depends on the polarization properties of the radiation, which, in turn, are determined by the structure of the stellar outermost layers. Here we investigate the effect of mixing on the spectrum and polarimetric observables, polarization fraction and polarization angle, using realistic models of surface emission. We focus on RX J1856.5-3754, the only source among the X-ray-dim isolated neutron stars for which polarimetric measurements in the optical band were performed. Our results show that in the case of a condensed surface in both fixed and free-ion limits, the mixing can significantly limit the geometric configurations that reproduce the observed linear polarization fraction of 16.43%. In the case of an atmosphere, the mixing does not create any noticeable signatures. Complementing our approach with the data from upcoming soft X-ray polarimetry missions will allow one to obtain constraints on g _ γ a _ ∼ 10–11 GeV–1 and m _ a _ <= 10–6 eV, improving the present experimental and astrophysical limits.