X-ray Polarization from Magnetar Sources

X-ray Polarization from Magnetar Sources

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1,* and



Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Padova, 35131 Padova, Italy


Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK


Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.

Galaxies 2024, 12(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/galaxies12010006 (registering DOI)

Submission received: 8 January 2024
Revised: 5 February 2024
Accepted: 8 February 2024
Published: 10 February 2024


The launch of the IXPE telescope in late 2021 finally made polarization measurements in the 2–8keV band a reality, more than 40 years after the pioneering observations of the OSO-8 satellite. In the first two years of operations, IXPE targeted more than 60 sources, including four magnetars, neutron stars with magnetic fields in the petaGauss range. In this paper we summarize the IXPE main findings and discuss their implications for the physics of ultra-magnetized neutron stars. Polarimetric observations confirmed theoretical predictions, according to which X-ray radiation from magnetar sources is highly polarized, up to ≈80%, the highest value detected so far. This provides an independent confirmation that magnetars are indeed endowed with a super-strong magnetic field and that the twisted magnetosphere scenario is the most likely explanation for their soft X-ray emission. Polarization measurements allowed us to probe the physical conditions of the star’s outermost layers, showing that the cooler surface regions are in a condensed state, with no atmosphere on top. Although no smoking-gun of vacuum QED effects was found, the phase-dependent behavior of the polarization angle strongly hints that vacuum birefringence is indeed at work in magnetar magnetospheres.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Taverna , R.; Turolla , R.
X-ray Polarization from Magnetar Sources. Galaxies 2024, 12, 6.

AMA Style

Taverna  R, Turolla  R.
X-ray Polarization from Magnetar Sources. Galaxies. 2024; 12(1):6.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Taverna , Roberto, and Roberto Turolla .
2024. “X-ray Polarization from Magnetar Sources” Galaxies 12, no. 1: 6.

Note that from the first issue of 2016, this journal uses article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

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