skip to main content

Title: Einstein@Home discovery of the gamma-ray millisecond pulsar PSR J2039–5617 confirms its predicted redback nature
ABSTRACT The Fermi Large Area Telescope gamma-ray source 3FGL J2039.6–5618 contains a periodic optical and X-ray source that was predicted to be a ‘redback’ millisecond pulsar (MSP) binary system. However, the conclusive identification required the detection of pulsations from the putative MSP. To better constrain the orbital parameters for a directed search for gamma-ray pulsations, we obtained new optical light curves in 2017 and 2018, which revealed long-term variability from the companion star. The resulting orbital parameter constraints were used to perform a targeted gamma-ray pulsation search using the Einstein@Home-distributed volunteer computing system. This search discovered pulsations with a period of 2.65 ms, confirming the source as a binary MSP now known as PSR J2039–5617. Optical light-curve modelling is complicated, and likely biased, by asymmetric heating on the companion star and long-term variability, but we find an inclination i ≳ 60°, for a low pulsar mass between $1.1\, \mathrm{M}_{\odot } \lt M_{\rm psr} \lt $ 1.6 M⊙, and a companion mass of 0.15–$0.22\, \mathrm{M}_{\odot }$, confirming the redback classification. Timing the gamma-ray pulsations also revealed significant variability in the orbital period, which we find to be consistent with quadrupole moment variations in the companion star, suggestive of convective activity. We also find that more » the pulsed flux is modulated at the orbital period, potentially due to inverse Compton scattering between high-energy leptons in the pulsar wind and the companion star’s optical photon field. « less
Authors:
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; more » ; ; « less
Award ID(s):
1816904
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10273413
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume:
502
Issue:
1
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
915 to 934
ISSN:
0035-8711
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. ABSTRACT We report observed and derived timing parameters for three millisecond pulsars (MSPs) from observations collected with the Parkes 64-m telescope, Murriyang. The pulsars were found during reprocessing of archival survey data by Mickaliger et al. One of the new pulsars (PSR J1546–5925) has a spin period P = 7.8 ms and is isolated. The other two (PSR J0921–5202 with P = 9.7 ms and PSR J1146–6610 with P = 3.7 ms) are in binary systems around low-mass (${\gt}0.2\, {\rm M}_{\odot }$) companions. Their respective orbital periods are 38.2 and 62.8 d. While PSR J0921–5202 has a low orbital eccentricity e = 1.3 × 10−5, in keeping with many other Galactic MSPs, PSR J1146–6610 has a significantly larger eccentricity, e = 7.4 × 10−3. This makes it a likely member of a group of eccentric MSP–helium white dwarf binary systems in the Galactic disc whose formation is poorly understood. Two of the pulsars are co-located with previously unidentified point sources discovered with the Fermi satellite’s Large Area Telescope, but no γ-ray pulsations have been detected, likely due to their low spin-down powers. We also show that, particularly in terms of orbital diversity, the current sample of MSPs is far from complete and is subject to a number of selection biases.
  2. Abstract We present new discoveries and results from long-term timing of 72 pulsars discovered in the Pulsar Arecibo L -band Feed Array (PALFA) survey, including precise determination of astrometric and spin parameters, and flux density and scatter broadening measurements at 1.4 GHz. Notable discoveries include two young pulsars (characteristic ages ∼30 kyr) with no apparent supernova remnant associations, three mode-changing, 12 nulling and two intermittent pulsars. We detected eight glitches in five pulsars. Among them is PSR J1939+2609, an apparently old pulsar (characteristic age ∼1 Gy), and PSR J1954+2529, which likely belongs to a newly emerging class of binary pulsars. The latter is the only pulsar among the 72 that is clearly not isolated: a nonrecycled neutron star with a 931 ms spin period in an eccentric ( e = 0.114) wide ( P b = 82.7 days) orbit with a companion of undetermined nature having a minimum mass of ∼0.6 M ⊙ . Since operations at Arecibo ceased in 2020 August, we give a final tally of PALFA sky coverage, and compare its 207 pulsar discoveries to the known population. On average, they are 50% more distant than other Galactic plane radio pulsars; PALFA millisecond pulsars (MSPs) have twicemore »the dispersion measure per unit spin period than the known population of MSP in the plane. The four intermittent pulsars discovered by PALFA more than double the population of such objects, which should help to improve our understanding of pulsar magnetosphere physics. The statistics for these, rotating radio transients, and nulling pulsars suggest that there are many more of these objects in the Galaxy than was previously thought.« less
  3. ABSTRACT The fraction of stars that are in binaries or triples at the time of stellar death and the fraction of these systems that survive the supernova explosion are crucial constraints for evolution models and predictions for gravitational wave source populations. These fractions are also subject to direct observational determination. Here, we search 10 supernova remnants containing compact objects with proper motions for unbound binaries or triples using Gaia EDR3 and new statistical methods and tests for false positives. We confirm the one known example of an unbound binary, HD 37424 in G180.0−01.7, and find no other examples. Combining this with our previous searches for bound and unbound binaries, and assuming no bias in favour of finding interacting binaries, we find that 72.0 per cent (52.2–86.4 per cent, 90 per cent confidence) of supernova producing neutron stars are not binaries at the time of explosion, 13.9 per cent (5.4–27.2 per cent) produce bound binaries, and 12.5 per cent (2.8–31.3 per cent) produce unbound binaries. With a strong bias in favour of finding interacting binaries, the medians shift to 76.0 per cent were not binaries at death, 9.5 per cent leave bound binaries, and 13.2 per cent leave unbound binaries. Of explosions that do not leave binaries, ${\lt}18.9{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ can be fully unbound triples. These limits are conservatively for $M\gtmore »5\, \mathrm{M}_\odot$ companions, although the mass limits for some individual systems are significantly stronger. At birth, the progenitor of PSR J0538+2817 was probably a 13–$19\, \mathrm{M}_\odot$ star, and at the time of explosion, it was probably a Roche limited, partially stripped star transferring mass to HD 37424 and then producing a Type IIL or IIb supernova.« less
  4. ABSTRACT

    Accurate measurements of the masses of neutron stars are necessary to test binary evolution models, and to constrain the neutron star equation of state. In pulsar binaries with no measurable post-Keplerian parameters, this requires an accurate estimate of the binary system’s inclination and the radial velocity of the companion star by other means than pulsar timing. In this paper, we present the results of a new method for measuring this radial velocity using the binary synthesis code Icarus. This method relies on constructing a model spectrum of a tidally distorted, irradiated star as viewed for a given binary configuration. This method is applied to optical spectra of the newly discovered black widow PSR J1555–2908. By modeling the optical spectroscopy alongside optical photometry, we find that the radial velocity of the companion star is 397 ± 4 km s−1 (errors quoted at 95 per cent confidence interval), as well as a binary inclination of >75°. Combined with γ-ray pulsation timing information, this gives a neutron star mass of 1.67$^{+0.15}_{-0.09}$ M⊙ and a companion mass of 0.060$^{+0.005}_{-0.003}$ M⊙, placing PSR J1555–2908 at the observed upper limit of what is considered a black widow system.

  5. ABSTRACT

    KT Eridani was a very fast nova in 2009 peaking at V  = 5.42 mag. We marshal large data sets of photometry to finally work out the nature of KT Eri. From the TESS light curve, as confirmed with our radial velocity curve, we find an orbital period of 2.61595 d. With our 272 spectral energy distributions from simultaneous BVRIJHK measures, the companion star has a temperature of 6200 ± 500 K. Our century-long average in quiescence has V = 14.5. With the Gaia distance (5110$^{+920}_{-430}$ pc), the absolute magnitude is $M_{V_q}$ = +0.7 ± 0.3. We converted this absolute magnitude (corrected to the disc light alone) to accretion rates, $\dot{M}$, with a full integration of the α-disc model. This $\dot{M}$ is very high at 3.5 × 10−7 M⊙ yr−1. Our search and analysis of archival photographs shows that no eruption occurred from 1928 to 1954 or after 1969. With our analysis of the optical light curve, the X-ray light curve, and the radial velocity curve, we derive a white dwarf mass of 1.25 ± 0.03 M⊙. With the high white dwarf mass and very-high $\dot{M}$, KT Eri must require a short time to accumulate the required mass to trigger the next nova event. Our detailed calculations give a recurrence time-scale of 12 yr withmore »a total range of 5–50 yr. When combined with the archival constraints, we conclude that the recurrence time-scale must be between 40 and 50 yr. So, KT Eri is certainly a recurrent nova, with the prior eruption remaining undiscovered in a solar gap of coverage from 1959 to 1969.

    « less