When Will a Pulsar in Supernova 1987a Be Seen?

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Science  13 Nov 1987:
Vol. 238, Issue 4829, pp. 938-940
DOI: 10.1126/science.238.4829.938


The means by which a pulsar might be detected in the remnant of supernova 1987a in the Large Magelanic Cloud is examined. One possibility is that the slower-than-radioactive decay typically seen in the type II light curves is itself the sign of powering by the underlying pulsar, with the decline representing not the spinning down of the pulsar but rather the declining nebular opacity that would allow increasing amounts of the energy to escape as gamma rays. The test of this hypothesis (if the supernova conforms to type II expectations) would be to look for the "missing" energy in the form of those gamma rays that escape from the remnant instead of powering it.