Indexed on: 21 Jun '07Published on: 21 Jun '07Published in: Astrophysics
I discuss the lack of observational evidence that magnetars are formed as rapidly rotating neutron stars. Supernova remnants containing magnetars do not show the excess of kinetic energy expected for such a formation scenario, nor is there any evidence for a relic pulsar wind nebula. However, it could be that magnetars are formed with somewhat slower rotation periods, or that not all excess rotational energy was used to boost the explosion energy, for example as a result of gravitational radiation. Another observational tests for the rapid initial period hypothesis is to look for statistical evidence that about 1% of the observed supernovae have an additional 1E40-1E44 erg/s excess energy during the first year, caused by the spin down luminosity of a magnetar. An alternative scenario for the high magnetic fields of magnetars is the fossil field hypothesis, in which the magnetic field is inherited from the progenitor star. Direct observational tests for this hypothesis are harder to formulate, unless the neutron star formed in the SN1987A explosion emerges as a slowly rotating magnetar. Finally, I point out the possible connection between the jets in Cas A and its X-ray point source: the jets in Cas A may indicate that the explosion was accompanied by an X-ray flash, probably powered by a rapidly rotating compact object. However, the point source in Cas A does not seem to be a rapidly rotating neutron star, suggesting that the neutron star has slowed down considerably in 330 yr, requiring a magnetar-like field.