A search for optical counterparts of the complex Vela X system
De Jager, O.C.
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The pulsar wind nebula (PWN) associated with the Vela pulsar is a bright source in the radio, X-ray and gamma-ray bands, but not in the optical. This source is very near, lying at a distance of 290 pc, as inferred from the radio and optical parallax measurements of the pulsar. Knowledge of the brightness and structure of the Vela PWN in optical is important in order to constrain the underlying particle spectrum (and possibly the B-field properties and particle losses) associated with this extended source. We use results from the Digital Sky Survey, as well as results obtained using the SAAO 1.0 m telescope equipped with an imaging CCD (STE4) and BV filters, in an attempt to measure optical radiation from Vela X. To enlarge our field of view, we constructed a mosaic consisting of 3 × 3 frames around the pulsar position. We present spectral measurements from the High Energy Stereoscopic System (H.E.S.S.), Fermi Large Area Telescope (LAT), ASCA, Hubble Space Telescope (HST), Very Large Telescope (VLT), New Technology Telescope (NTT), andWilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), in addition to our optical results. Using these data, we investigate whether or not the radio synchrotron component can be smoothly extrapolated to the optical band. This would constrain the electron population to consist of either a single or multiple components, representing a significant advancement in our understanding of this complex multiwavelength source.