Radio-silent isolated neutron stars as a new astronomical reality
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As of today, seven X-ray sources have been tentatively identified as radio-quiet, isolated neutron stars. The family appears to be a rapidly growing one, although not all the objects have been identified with the same degree of certainty. The most convincing example of radio quiet pulsar is certainly Geminga, the neutron star nature of which, proposed in 1983 on the basis of its similarity with the Vela pulsar, has been firmly established with the discovery of its X and \(\gamma\) pulsation. Four more neutron star candidates, originally found in the Einstein data, have been confirmed by ROSAT, which has added to the list two more entries. All this is not the result of an unbiased search. The seven sources were not selected at random: four are inside supernova remnants, an obvious place to search for isolated neutron stars, while the remaining three were singled out because of some peculiarity. Intense \(\gamma\)-ray emission in the case of Geminga, very high X-ray counting rate for RXJ185635-3754, or being the brightest unidentified source in the Einstein medium sensitivity survey, MS 0317-6647. In spite of the limited number of objects and of the observational biases, these seven radio quiet neutron star candidates add valuable pieces of information to the observational panorama of known pulsars. Their properties, inferred from the X-ray emission, offer a coherent picture, pointing towards thermally emitting, cooling neutron stars.
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