Inverse mapping of polarized optical emission from pulsars: Basic formulation and determination of emission altitude

J. Mc Donald, P. O' Connor, D. de Burca, A. Golden, A. Shearer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


We present an inverse mapping approach to determining the emission height of the optical photons from pulsars, which is directly constrained by empirical data. The model discussed is for the case of the Crab pulsar. Our method, using the optical Stokes parameters, determines the most likely geometry for emission including magnetic field inclination angle (α), observer's line-of-sight angle (χ) and emission height. We discuss the computational implementation of the approach, along with any physical assumptions made. We find that the most likely emission altitude is at 20 per cent of the light cylinder radius above the stellar surface in the open field region. We also present a general treatment of the expected polarization from synchrotron source with a truncated power-law spectrum of particles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)730-744
Number of pages15
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2011



  • Methods: numerical
  • Pulsars: general
  • Pulsars: individual: Crab
  • Radiation mechanisms: non-thermal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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