Space Science Reviews

, Volume 166, Issue 1–4, pp 231–261 | Cite as

Magnetic Fields in Supernova Remnants and Pulsar-Wind Nebulae

  • Stephen P. Reynolds
  • B. M. Gaensler
  • Fabrizio Bocchino
Article

Abstract

We review the observations of supernova remnants (SNRs) and pulsar-wind nebulae (PWNe) that give information on the strength and orientation of magnetic fields. Radio polarimetry gives the degree of order of magnetic fields, and the orientation of the ordered component. Many young shell supernova remnants show evidence for synchrotron X-ray emission. The spatial analysis of this emission suggests that magnetic fields are amplified by one to two orders of magnitude in strong shocks. Detection of several remnants in TeV gamma rays implies a lower limit on the magnetic-field strength (or a measurement, if the emission process is inverse-Compton upscattering of cosmic microwave background photons). Upper limits to GeV emission similarly provide lower limits on magnetic-field strengths. In the historical shell remnants, lower limits on B range from 25 to 1000 μG. Two remnants show variability of synchrotron X-ray emission with a timescale of years. If this timescale is the electron-acceleration or radiative loss timescale, magnetic fields of order 1 mG are also implied. In pulsar-wind nebulae, equipartition arguments and dynamical modeling can be used to infer magnetic-field strengths anywhere from ∼5 μG to 1 mG. Polarized fractions are considerably higher than in SNRs, ranging to 50 or 60% in some cases; magnetic-field geometries often suggest a toroidal structure around the pulsar, but this is not universal. Viewing-angle effects undoubtedly play a role. MHD models of radio emission in shell SNRs show that different orientations of upstream magnetic field, and different assumptions about electron acceleration, predict different radio morphology. In the remnant of SN 1006, such comparisons imply a magnetic-field orientation connecting the bright limbs, with a substantial density gradient across the remnant.

Keywords

Supernova remnants Pulsar-wind nebulae Magnetic-field amplification 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen P. Reynolds
    • 1
  • B. M. Gaensler
    • 2
  • Fabrizio Bocchino
    • 3
  1. 1.Physics DepartmentNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  2. 2.Sydney Institute for Astronomy, School of PhysicsThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di PalermoPalermoItaly

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