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    Spider pulsars continue to provide promising candidates for neutron star mass measurements. Here we present the discovery of PSR J1910−5320, a new millisecond pulsar discovered in a MeerKAT observation of an unidentified Fermi-LAT gamma-ray source. This pulsar is coincident with a recently identified candidate redback binary, independently discovered through its periodic optical flux and radial velocity. New multicolour optical light curves obtained with ULTRACAM/New Technology Telescope in combination with MeerKAT timing and updated SOAR/Goodman spectroscopic radial velocity measurements allow a mass constraint for PSR J1910−5320. icarus optical light curve modelling, with streamlined radial velocity fitting, constrains the orbital inclination and companion velocity, unlocking the binary mass function given the precise radio ephemeris. Our modelling aims to unite the photometric and spectroscopic measurements available by fitting each simultaneously to the same underlying physical model, ensuring self-consistency. This targets centre-of-light radial velocity corrections necessitated by the irradiation endemic to spider systems. Depending on the gravity darkening prescription used, we find a moderate neutron star mass of either 1.6 ± 0.2 or 1.4 ± 0.2 M⊙. The companion mass of either 0.45 ± 0.04 or $0.43^{+0.04}_{-0.03}$M⊙ also further confirms PSR J1910−5320 as an irradiated redback spider pulsar.

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    AM CVn-type systems are ultracompact, helium-accreting binary systems that are evolutionarily linked to the progenitors of thermonuclear supernovae and are expected to be strong Galactic sources of gravitational waves detectable to upcoming space-based interferometers. AM CVn binaries with orbital periods ≲20–23 min exist in a constant high state with a permanently ionized accretion disc. We present the discovery of TIC 378898110, a bright (G = 14.3 mag), nearby (309.3 ± 1.8 pc), high-state AM CVn binary discovered in TESS two-minute-cadence photometry. At optical wavelengths, this is the third-brightest AM CVn binary known. The photometry of the system shows a 23.07172(6) min periodicity, which is likely to be the ‘superhump’ period and implies an orbital period in the range 22–23 min. There is no detectable spectroscopic variability. The system underwent an unusual, year-long brightening event during which the dominant photometric period changed to a shorter period (constrained to 20.5 ± 2.0 min), which we suggest may be evidence for the onset of disc-edge eclipses. The estimated mass transfer rate, $\log (\dot{M} / \mathrm{M_\odot } \, \mathrm{yr}^{-1}) = -6.8 \pm 1.0$, is unusually high and may suggest a high-mass or thermally inflated donor. The binary is detected as an X-ray source, with a flux of $9.2 ^{+4.2}_{-1.8} \times 10^{-13}$ erg cm−2 s−1 in the 0.3–10 keV range. TIC 378898110 is the shortest-period binary system discovered with TESS, and its large predicted gravitational-wave amplitude makes it a compelling verification binary for future space-based gravitational wave detectors.

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    Black widows are extreme millisecond pulsar binaries where the pulsar wind ablates their low-mass companion stars. In the optical range, their light curves vary periodically due to the high irradiation and tidal distortion of the companion, which allows us to infer the binary parameters. We present simultaneous multiband observations obtained with the HIPERCAM instrument at the 10.4-m GTC telescope for six of these systems. The combination of this five-band (us,gs, rs, is, zs) fast photometer with the world’s largest optical telescope enables us to inspect the light curve range near minima. We present the first light curve for PSR J1641+8049, as well as attain a significant increase in signal to noise and cadence compared with previous publications for the remaining five targets: PSR J0023+0923, PSR J0251+2606, PSR J0636+5129, PSR J0952−0607, and PSR J1544+4937. We report on the results of the light-curve modelling with the Icarus code for all six systems, which reveals some of the hottest and densest companion stars known. We compare the parameters derived with the limited but steadily growing black widow population for which optical modelling is available. We find some expected correlations, such as that between the companion star mean density and the orbital period of the system, which can be attributed to the high number of Roche-lobe filling companions. On the other hand, the positive correlation between the orbital inclination and the irradiation temperature of the companion is puzzling. We propose such a correlation would arise if pulsars with magnetic axis orthogonal to their spin axis are capable of irradiating their companions to a higher degree.

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    We present the discovery of the eclipsing double white dwarf (WD) binary WDJ 022558.21−692025.38 that has an orbital period of 47.19 min. Following identification with the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, we obtained time series ground based spectroscopy and high-speed multiband ULTRACAM photometry which indicate a primary DA WD of mass $0.40\pm 0.04\, \text{M}_\odot$ and a $0.28\pm 0.02\, \text{M}_\odot$ mass secondary WD, which is likely of type DA as well. The system becomes the third-closest eclipsing double WD binary discovered with a distance of approximately 400 pc and will be a detectable source for upcoming gravitational wave detectors in the mHz frequency range. Its orbital decay will be measurable photometrically within 10 yr to a precision of better than 1 per cent. The fate of the binary is to merge in approximately 41 Myr, likely forming a single, more massive WD.

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    We present a rapid timing analysis of optical (HiPERCAM and ULTRACAM) and X-ray (NICER) observations of the X-ray transient Swift J1858.6−0814 during 2018 and 2019. The optical light curves show relatively slow, large amplitude (∼1 mag in gs) ‘blue’ flares (i.e. stronger at shorter wavelengths) on time-scales of ∼minutes as well as fast, small amplitude (∼0.1 mag in gs) ‘red’ flares (i.e. stronger at longer wavelengths) on time-scales of ∼seconds. The ‘blue’ and ‘red’ flares are consistent with X-ray reprocessing and optically thin synchrotron emission, respectively, similar to what is observed in other X-ray binaries. The simultaneous optical versus soft- and hard-band X-ray light curves show time- and energy-dependent correlations. The 2019 March 4 and parts of the June data show a nearly symmetric positive cross-correlations (CCFs) at positive lags consistent with simple X-ray disc reprocessing. The soft- and hard-band CCFs are similar and can be reproduced if disc reprocessing dominates in the optical and one component (disc or synchrotron Comptonization) dominates both the soft and hard X-rays. A part of the 2019 June data shows a very different CCFs. The observed positive correlation at negative lag in the soft band can be reproduced if the optical synchrotron emission is correlated with the hot flow X-ray emission. The observed timing properties are in qualitative agreement with the hybrid inner hot accretion flow model, where the relative role of the different X-ray and optical components that vary during the course of the outburst, as well as on shorter time-scales, govern the shape of the optical/X-ray CCFs.

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  6. Abstract Reliable neutron star mass measurements are key to determining the equation of state of cold nuclear matter, but such measurements are rare. Black widows and redbacks are compact binaries consisting of millisecond pulsars and semi-degenerate companion stars. Spectroscopy of the optically bright companions can determine their radial velocities, providing inclination-dependent pulsar mass estimates. Although inclinations can be inferred from subtle features in optical light curves, such estimates may be systematically biased due to incomplete heating models and poorly understood variability. Using data from the Fermi Large Area Telescope, we have searched for gamma-ray eclipses from 49 spider systems, discovering significant eclipses in 7 systems, including the prototypical black widow PSR B1957+20. Gamma-ray eclipses require direct occultation of the pulsar by the companion, and so the detection, or significant exclusion, of a gamma-ray eclipse strictly limits the binary inclination angle, providing new robust, model-independent pulsar mass constraints. For PSR B1957+20, the eclipse implies a much lighter pulsar (1.81 ± 0.07 solar masses) than inferred from optical light curve modelling. 
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    Over the past few years, ∼30 extragalactic fast X-ray transients (FXRTs) have been discovered, mainly in Chandra and XMM-Newton data. Their nature remains unclear, with proposed origins, including a double neutron star merger, a tidal disruption event involving an intermediate-mass black hole and a white dwarf, or a supernova shock breakout. A decisive differentiation between these three promising mechanisms for their origin requires an understanding of the FXRT energetics, environments, and/or host properties. We present optical observations obtained with the Very Large Telescope for the FXRTs XRT 000519 and XRT 110103 and Gran Telescopio Canarias observations for XRT 000519 designed to search for host galaxies of these FXRTs. In the gs, rs, and R-band images, we detect an extended source on the north-west side of the $\sim \, 1^{\prime \prime }$ (68 per cent confidence) error circle of the X-ray position of XRT 000519 with a Kron magnitude of gs = 26.29 ± 0.09 (AB magnitude). We discuss the XRT 000519 association with the probable host candidate for various possible distances, and we conclude that if XRT 000519 is associated with the host candidate a supernova shock breakout scenario is likely excluded. No host galaxy is found near XRT 110103 down to a limiting magnitude of R > 25.8.

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    DW Cnc is an intermediate polar which has previously been observed in both high and low states. Observations of the high state of DW Cnc have previously revealed a spin period at ∼38.6 min, however, observations from the 2018 to 2019 low state showed no evidence of the spin period. We present results from our analysis of 12 s cadence photometric data collected by Next Generation Transit Survey of DW Cnc during the high state which began in 2019. Following the previously reported suppression of the spin period signal, we identify the return of this signal during the high state, consistent with previous observations of it. We identify this as the restarting of accretion during the high state. We further identified three short outbursts lasting ∼1 d in DW Cnc with a mean recurrence time of ∼60 d and an amplitude of ∼1 mag. These are the first outbursts identified in DW Cnc since 2008. Due to the short nature of these events, we identify them not as a result of accretion instabilities but instead either from instabilities originating from the interaction of the magnetorotational instability in the accretion disc and the magnetic field generated by the white dwarf or the result of magnetic gating.

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    More than 100 millisecond pulsars (MSPs) have been discovered in radio observations of gamma-ray sources detected by the Fermi Large Area Telescope (LAT), but hundreds of pulsar-like sources remain unidentified. Here, we present the first results from the targeted survey of Fermi-LAT sources being performed by the Transients and Pulsars with MeerKAT (TRAPUM) Large Survey Project. We observed 79 sources identified as possible gamma-ray pulsar candidates by a Random Forest classification of unassociated sources from the 4FGL catalogue. Each source was observed for 10 min on two separate epochs using MeerKAT’s L-band receiver (856–1712 MHz), with typical pulsed flux density sensitivities of $\sim 100\, \mu$Jy. Nine new MSPs were discovered, eight of which are in binary systems, including two eclipsing redbacks and one system, PSR J1526−2744, that appears to have a white dwarf companion in an unusually compact 5 h orbit. We obtained phase-connected timing solutions for two of these MSPs, enabling the detection of gamma-ray pulsations in the Fermi-LAT data. A follow-up search for continuous gravitational waves from PSR J1526−2744 in Advanced LIGO data using the resulting Fermi-LAT timing ephemeris yielded no detection, but sets an upper limit on the neutron star ellipticity of 2.45 × 10−8. We also detected X-ray emission from the redback PSR J1803−6707 in data from the first eROSITA all-sky survey, likely due to emission from an intrabinary shock.

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