Title

When a standard candle flickers

Authors

Colleen A. Wilson-Hodge, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
Michael L. Cherry, Louisiana State University
Gary L. Case, Louisiana State University
Wayne H. Baumgartner, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Elif Beklen, Middle East Technical University (METU)
P. Narayana Bhat, The University of Alabama in Huntsville
Michael S. Briggs, The University of Alabama in Huntsville
Ascension Camero-Arranz, National Space Science and Technology Center
Vandiver Chaplin, The University of Alabama in Huntsville
Valerie Connaughton, The University of Alabama in Huntsville
Mark H. Finger, Huntsville Program Office
Neil Gehrels, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Jochen Greiner, Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics
Keith Jahoda, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Peter Jenke, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
R. Marc Kippen, Los Alamos National Laboratory
Chryssa Kouveliotou, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
Hans A. Krimm, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Erik Kuulkers, European Space Astronomy Centre
Niels Lund, Danmarks Tekniske Universitet
Charles A. Meegan, Huntsville Program Office
Lorenzo Natalucci, Istituto Nazionale Di Astrofisica, Rome
William S. Paciesas, The University of Alabama in Huntsville
Robert Preece, The University of Alabama in Huntsville
James C. Rodi, Louisiana State University
Nikolai Shaposhnikov, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Gerald K. Skinner, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Doug Swartz, Huntsville Program Office
Andreas Von Kienlin, Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics
Roland Diehl, Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics
Xiao Ling Zhang, Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date

12-1-2010

Abstract

The Crab Nebula is the only hard X-ray source in the sky that is both bright enough and steady enough to be easily used as a standard candle. As a result, it has been used as a normalization standard by most X-ray/gamma ray telescopes. Although small-scale variations in the nebula are well-known, since the start of science operations of the Fermi Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM) in August 2008 a ∼ 7% (70 mcrab) decline has been observed in the overall Crab Nebula flux in the 15-50 keV band, measured with the Earth occultation technique. This decline is independently confirmed in the ∼ 15 - 50 keV band with three other instruments: the Swift Burst Alert Telescope (Swift/BAT), the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer Proportional Counter Array (RXTE/PCA), and the INTErnational Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory Imager on Board INTEGRAL (IBIS). A similar decline is also observed in the ∼ 3 - 15 keV data from the RXTE/PCA and in the 50 - 100 keV band with GBM, Swift/BAT, and INTEGRAL/IBIS. The change in the pulsed flux measured with RXTE/PCA since 1999 is consistent with the pulsar spin-down, indicating that the observed changes are nebular. Correlated variations in the Crab Nebula flux on a ∼ 3 year timescale are also seen independently with the PCA, BAT, and IBIS from 2005 to 2008, with a flux minimum in April 2007. As of August 2010, the current flux has declined below the 2007 minimum. © Copyright owned by the author(s) under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike Licence.

Publication Source (Journal or Book title)

Proceedings of Science

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS