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  1. We report on a comprehensive analysis of simultaneous X-ray polarimetric and spectral data of the bright atoll source GX 9+9 with the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) and NuSTAR . The source is significantly polarized in the 4–8 keV band, with a degree of 2.2%  ±  0.5% (uncertainty at the 68% confidence level). The NuSTAR broad-band spectrum clearly shows an iron line, and is well described by a model including thermal disc emission, a Comptonized component, and reflection. From a spectro-polarimetric fit, we obtain an upper limit to the polarization degree of the disc of 4% (at the 99% confidence level), while the contribution of Comptonized and reflected radiation cannot be conclusively separated. However, the polarization is consistent with resulting from a combination of Comptonization in a boundary or spreading layer, plus reflection off the disc, which significantly contributes in any realistic scenario. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
  2. ABSTRACT X Persei is a persistent low-luminosity X-ray pulsar of period of ≈ 835 s in a Be binary system. The field strength at the neutron star surface is not known precisely, but indirect signs indicate a magnetic field above 1013 G, which makes the object one of the most magnetized known X-ray pulsars. Here we present the results of observations X Persei performed with the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE). The X-ray polarization signal was found to be strongly dependent on the spin phase of the pulsar. The energy-averaged polarization degree in 3–8 keV band varied from several to ∼20 per cent over the pulse with a phase dependence resembling the pulse profile. The polarization angle shows significant variation and makes two complete revolutions during the pulse period, resulting in nearly nil pulse-phase averaged polarization. Applying the rotating vector model to the IXPE data we obtain the estimates for the rotation axis inclination and its position angle on the sky, as well as for the magnetic obliquity. The derived inclination is close to the orbital inclination, reported earlier for X Persei. The polarimetric data imply a large angle between the rotation and magnetic dipole axes, which is similar to the result reported recently for the X-ray pulsar GRO J1008−57. After eliminating the effect of polarization angle rotation over the pulsar phase using the best-fitting rotating vector model, the strong dependence of the polarization degree with energy was discovered, with its value increasing from 0 at ∼2 keV to 30per cent at 8 keV. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 12, 2024
  3. ABSTRACT We present an X-ray spectropolarimetric analysis of the bright Seyfert galaxy NGC 4151. The source has been observed with the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) for 700 ks, complemented with simultaneous XMM–Newton (50 ks) and NuSTAR (100 ks) pointings. A polarization degree Π = 4.9 ± 1.1 per cent and angle Ψ = 86° ± 7° east of north (68 per cent confidence level) are measured in the 2–8 keV energy range. The spectropolarimetric analysis shows that the polarization could be entirely due to reflection. Given the low reflection flux in the IXPE band, this requires, however, a reflection with a very large (>38 per cent) polarization degree. Assuming more reasonable values, a polarization degree of the hot corona ranging from ∼4 to ∼8 per cent is found. The observed polarization degree excludes a ‘spherical’ lamppost geometry for the corona, suggesting instead a slab-like geometry, possibly a wedge, as determined via Monte Carlo simulations. This is further confirmed by the X-ray polarization angle, which coincides with the direction of the extended radio emission in this source, supposed to match the disc axis. NGC 4151 is the first active galactic nucleus with an X-ray polarization measure for the corona, illustrating the capabilities of X-ray polarimetry and IXPE in unveiling its geometry. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 8, 2024
  4. ABSTRACT We report spectro-polarimetric results of an observational campaign of the bright neutron star low-mass X-ray binary Cyg X-2 simultaneously observed by IXPE, NICER, and INTEGRAL. Consistently with previous results, the broad-band spectrum is characterized by a lower-energy component, attributed to the accretion disc with kTin ≈ 1 keV, plus unsaturated Comptonization in thermal plasma with temperature kTe = 3 keV and optical depth τ ≈ 4, assuming a slab geometry. We measure the polarization degree in the 2–8 keV band P = 1.8 ± 0.3 per cent and polarization angle ϕ = 140° ± 4°, consistent with the previous X-ray polarimetric measurements by OSO-8 as well as with the direction of the radio jet which was earlier observed from the source. While polarization of the disc spectral component is poorly constrained with the IXPE data, the Comptonized emission has a polarization degree P = 4.0 ± 0.7 per cent and a polarization angle aligned with the radio jet. Our results strongly favour a spreading layer at the neutron star surface as the main source of the polarization signal. However, we cannot exclude a significant contribution from reflection off the accretion disc, as indicated by the presence of the iron fluorescence line. 
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  5. ABSTRACT We report on the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) observation of the closest and X-ray brightest Compton-thick active galactic nucleus (AGN), the Circinus galaxy. We find the source to be significantly polarized in the 2–6 keV band. From previous studies, the X-ray spectrum is known to be dominated by reflection components, both neutral (torus) and ionized (ionization cones). Our analysis indicates that the polarization degree is 28 ± 7 per cent (at 68 per cent confidence level) for the neutral reflector, with a polarization angle of 18° ± 5°, roughly perpendicular to the radio jet. The polarization of the ionized reflection is unconstrained. A comparison with Monte Carlo simulations of the polarization expected from the torus shows that the neutral reflector is consistent with being an equatorial torus with a half-opening angle of 45°–55°. This is the first X-ray polarization detection in a Seyfert galaxy, demonstrating the power of X-ray polarimetry in probing the geometry of the circumnuclear regions of AGNs, and confirming the basic predictions of standard Unification Models. 
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  6. ABSTRACT We report on the first observation of a radio-quiet active galactic nucleus (AGN) in polarized X-rays: the Seyfert 1.9 galaxy MCG-05-23-16. This source was pointed at with the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) starting on 2022 May 14 for a net observing time of 486 ks, simultaneously with XMM-Newton (58 ks) and NuSTAR (83 ks). A polarization degree Π smaller than 4.7 per cent (at the 99 per cent confidence level) is derived in the 2–8 keV energy range, where emission is dominated by the primary component ascribed to the hot corona. The broad-band spectrum, inferred from a simultaneous fit to the IXPE, NuSTAR, and XMM-Newton data, is well reproduced by a power law with photon index Γ = 1.85 ± 0.01 and a high-energy cutoff EC = 120 ± 15 keV. A comparison with Monte Carlo simulations shows that a lamp-post and a conical geometry of the corona are consistent with the observed upper limit, a slab geometry is allowed only if the inclination angle of the system is less than 50°. 
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  7. Abstract We report on a long-lasting, elevated gamma-ray flux state from VER J0521+211 observed by VERITAS, MAGIC, and Fermi-LAT in 2013 and 2014. The peak integral flux above 200 GeV measured with the nightly binned light curve is (8.8 ± 0.4) × 10 −7 photons m −2 s −1 , or ∼37% of the Crab Nebula flux. Multiwavelength observations from X-ray, UV, and optical instruments are also presented. A moderate correlation between the X-ray and TeV gamma-ray fluxes was observed, and the X-ray spectrum appeared harder when the flux was higher. Using the gamma-ray spectrum and four models of the extragalactic background light (EBL), a conservative 95% confidence upper limit on the redshift of the source was found to be z ≤ 0.31. Unlike the gamma-ray and X-ray bands, the optical flux did not increase significantly during the studied period compared to the archival low-state flux. The spectral variability from optical to X-ray bands suggests that the synchrotron peak of the spectral energy distribution (SED) may become broader during flaring states, which can be adequately described with a one-zone synchrotron self-Compton model varying the high-energy end of the underlying particle spectrum. The synchrotron peak frequency of the SED and the radio morphology of the jet from the MOJAVE program are consistent with the source being an intermediate-frequency-peaked BL Lac object. 
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  8. ABSTRACT MAXI J1820+070 is a low-mass X-ray binary with a black hole (BH) as a compact object. This binary underwent an exceptionally bright X-ray outburst from 2018 March to October, showing evidence of a non-thermal particle population through its radio emission during this whole period. The combined results of 59.5 h of observations of the MAXI J1820+070 outburst with the H.E.S.S., MAGIC and VERITAS experiments at energies above 200 GeV are presented, together with Fermi-LAT data between 0.1 and 500 GeV, and multiwavelength observations from radio to X-rays. Gamma-ray emission is not detected from MAXI J1820+070, but the obtained upper limits and the multiwavelength data allow us to put meaningful constraints on the source properties under reasonable assumptions regarding the non-thermal particle population and the jet synchrotron spectrum. In particular, it is possible to show that, if a high-energy (HE) gamma-ray emitting region is present during the hard state of the source, its predicted flux should be at most a factor of 20 below the obtained Fermi-LAT upper limits, and closer to them for magnetic fields significantly below equipartition. During the state transitions, under the plausible assumption that electrons are accelerated up to ∼500 GeV, the multiwavelength data and the gamma-ray upper limits lead consistently to the conclusion that a potential HE and very-HE gamma-ray emitting region should be located at a distance from the BH ranging between 1011 and 1013 cm. Similar outbursts from low-mass X-ray binaries might be detectable in the near future with upcoming instruments such as CTA. 
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  9. Abstract The results of gamma-ray observations of the binary system HESS J0632 + 057 collected during 450 hr over 15 yr, between 2004 and 2019, are presented. Data taken with the atmospheric Cherenkov telescopes H.E.S.S., MAGIC, and VERITAS at energies above 350 GeV were used together with observations at X-ray energies obtained with Swift-XRT, Chandra, XMM-Newton, NuSTAR, and Suzaku. Some of these observations were accompanied by measurements of the H α emission line. A significant detection of the modulation of the very high-energy gamma-ray fluxes with a period of 316.7 ± 4.4 days is reported, consistent with the period of 317.3 ± 0.7 days obtained with a refined analysis of X-ray data. The analysis of data from four orbital cycles with dense observational coverage reveals short-timescale variability, with flux-decay timescales of less than 20 days at very high energies. Flux variations observed over a timescale of several years indicate orbit-to-orbit variability. The analysis confirms the previously reported correlation of X-ray and gamma-ray emission from the system at very high significance, but cannot find any correlation of optical H α parameters with fluxes at X-ray or gamma-ray energies in simultaneous observations. The key finding is that the emission of HESS J0632 + 057 in the X-ray and gamma-ray energy bands is highly variable on different timescales. The ratio of gamma-ray to X-ray flux shows the equality or even dominance of the gamma-ray energy range. This wealth of new data is interpreted taking into account the insufficient knowledge of the ephemeris of the system, and discussed in the context of results reported on other gamma-ray binary systems. 
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