Observation of Pulsed γ-Rays Above 25 GeV from the Crab Pulsar with MAGIC

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Science  21 Nov 2008:
Vol. 322, Issue 5905, pp. 1221-1224
DOI: 10.1126/science.1164718

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One fundamental question about pulsars concerns the mechanism of their pulsed electromagnetic emission. Measuring the high-end region of a pulsar's spectrum would shed light on this question. By developing a new electronic trigger, we lowered the threshold of the Major Atmospheric γ-ray Imaging Cherenkov (MAGIC) telescope to 25 giga–electron volts. In this configuration, we detected pulsed γ-rays from the Crab pulsar that were greater than 25 giga–electron volts, revealing a relatively high cutoff energy in the phase-averaged spectrum. This indicates that the emission occurs far out in the magnetosphere, hence excluding the polar-cap scenario as a possible explanation of our measurement. The high cutoff energy also challenges the slot-gap scenario.

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