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Prospects for IXPE and eXTP polarimetric archaeology of the reflection nebulae in the Galactic Center

Abstract : The X-ray polarization properties of the reflection nebulae in the Galactic center inform us about the direction of the illuminating source (through the polarization angle) and the cloud position along the line of sight (through the polarization degree). However, the detected polarization degree is expected to be lowered because the polarized emission of the clouds is mixed with the unpolarized diffuse emission that permeates the Galactic center region. In a real observation, also the morphological smearing of the source due to the point spread function and the unpolarized instrumental background contribute in diluting the polarization degree. So far, these effects have never been included in the estimation of the dilution. We evaluate the detectability of the X-ray polarization predicted for the MC2, Bridge-B2, G0.11-0.11, Sgr B2, Sgr C1, Sgr C2, and Sgr C3 molecular clouds with modern X-ray imaging polarimeters such as the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE), which is expected to launch in 2021, and the Enhanced X-ray Timing and Polarimetry mission (eXTP), whose launch is scheduled for 2027. We perform realistic simulations of X-ray polarimetric observations considering (with the aid of Chandra maps and spectra) the spatial, spectral, and polarization properties of all the diffuse emission and background components in each region of interest. We find that in the 4.0–8.0 keV band, where the emission of the molecular clouds outshines the other components, the dilution of the polarization degree, including the contribution due to the morphological smearing of the source, ranges between ~19% and ~55%. We conclude that for some distance values reported in the literature, the diluted polarization degree of G0.11-0.11, Sgr B2, Bridge-B2, Bridge-E, Sgr C1, and Sgr C3 may be detectable in a 2 Ms long IXPE observations. With the same exposure time, and considering the whole range of possible distances reported in the literature, the enhanced capabilities of eXTP may allow detecting the 4.0–8.0 keV of all the targets considered here.Key words: polarization / Galaxy: nucleus / X-rays: general
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Submitted on : Tuesday, September 15, 2020 - 11:04:11 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, November 3, 2021 - 6:47:49 AM

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L. Di Gesu, R. Ferrazzoli, I. Donnarumma, P. Soffitta, E. Costa, et al.. Prospects for IXPE and eXTP polarimetric archaeology of the reflection nebulae in the Galactic Center. Astronomy and Astrophysics - A&A, EDP Sciences, 2020, 643, pp.A52. ⟨10.1051/0004-6361/202037886⟩. ⟨hal-02939978⟩

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