Modeling phase-aligned gamma-ray and radio millisecond pulsar light curves
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Since the discovery of the first eight gamma-ray millisecond pulsars (MSPs) by the Fermi Large Area Telescope, this population has been steadily expanding. Four of the more recent detections, PSR J0034–0534, PSR J1939+2134 (B1937+21; the first MSP ever discovered), PSR J1959+2048 (B1957+20; the first discovery of a black widow system), and PSR J2214+3000, exhibit a phenomenon not present in the original discoveries: nearly phase-aligned radio and gamma-ray light curves (LCs). To account for the phase alignment, we explore models where both the radio and gamma-ray emission originate either in the outer magnetosphere near the light cylinder or near the polar caps. Using a Markov Chain Monte Carlo technique to search for best-fit model parameters, we obtain reasonable LC fits for the first three of these MSPs in the context of "altitude-limited" outer gap (alOG) and two-pole caustic (alTPC) geometries (for both gamma-ray and radio emission). These models differ from the standard outer gap (OG)/two-pole caustic (TPC) models in two respects: the radio emission originates in caustics at relatively high altitudes compared to the usual conal radio beams, and we allow both the minimum and maximum altitudes of the gamma-ray and radio emission regions to vary within a limited range (excluding the minimum gamma-ray altitude of the alTPC model, which is kept constant at the stellar radius, and that of the alOG model, which is set to the position-dependent null charge surface altitude). Alternatively, phase-aligned solutions also exist for emission originating near the stellar surface in a slot gap scenario ("low-altitude slot gap" (laSG) models). We find that the alTPC models provide slightly better LC fits than the alOG models, and both of these give better fits than the laSG models (for the limited range of parameters considered in the case of the laSG models). Thus, our fits imply that the phase-aligned LCs are likely of caustic origin, produced in the outer magnetosphere, and that the radio emission for these pulsars may come from close to the light cylinder. In addition, we were able to constrain the minimum and maximum emission altitudes with typical uncertainties of ~30% of the light cylinder radius. Our results therefore describe a third gamma-ray MSP subclass, in addition to the two previously found by Venter et al.: those with LCs fit by standard OG/TPC models and those with LCs fit by pair-starved polar cap models.