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The Double Pulsar

The Double Pulsar, PSR J0737-3039A/B, is the only binary pulsar system in which both neutron stars have been detected as radio pulsars. This is a rare situation as it requires the electromagnetic beam from both pulsars to intercept our line of sight at the same time. The Double Pulsar was discovered in late 2003 by an international team of astronomers with the 64-m Parkes radio telescope in Australia as part of a high-latitude multibeam survey of the Southern sky1,2.

The Double
  Pulsar

The Double Pulsar provides an amazing laboratory for the study of relativistic gravity and the most precise test to date of General Relativity in the strong-field regime3. The two pulsars orbit each other in a 2.4-hr orbit, the shortest of any observed double neutron star systems, with moderate orbital eccentricity of 0.088. The first-born pulsar, pulsar A, has a short spin period of 23 ms and the second-born companion, pulsar B, spins with a longer 2.8 s period. Due to almost edge-on orbital plane of the system, the eclipses of pulsar A by pulsar B have been detected. Also, the strong stellar wind produced by the high energy loss from pulsar A distorts the magnetosphere of its companion pulsar B4,5,14. Thus, the Double Pulsar offers a unique opportunity to probe directly the magnetospheric structures and the plasma properties of pulsars in general.

With strong gravitational fields and rapid motions of the two pulsars in a tight binary, the system is expected to show large relativistic effects. The required parameters to explain the Keplerian orbits of the system and their relativistic corrections have been measured through pulsar timing3. Due to relativistic spin precession, the spin axis of the pulsar precesses around the orbital angular momentum of the system. This results a modulation in observed radio emission properties, namely pulse profiles and flux densities. As a result, the radio emission from pulsar B disappeared in 2008 towards our line of sight6. Based on geometry models, the reappearance of B's radio emission is expected to happen between 2014 and 2024. We here at JBCA use the Lovell Telescope to monitor the system since its discovery.

By: Ben Perera

Images and videos related to the Double Pulsar and pulsars

Press Releases about the Double Pulsar

References

The references below, co-authored by Jodrell Bank astronomers, give further details on various aspects of the double-pulsar system.

  1. Burgay, M., D'Amico, N., Possenti, A., Manchester, R. N., Lyne, A. G., Joshi, B. C., McLaughlin, M. A., Kramer, M., Sarkissian, J. M., Camilo, F., Kalogera, V. M., Kim, C., Lorimer, D. R., 2003, Nature, 426, 531 An increased estimate of the merger rate of double neutron stars from observations of a highly relativistic system
  2. Lyne, A. G., Burgay, M., Kramer, M., Possenti, A., Manchester, R. N., Camilo, F., McLaughlin, M. A., Lorimer, D. R., D'Amico, N., Joshi, B. C., Reynolds, J., Freire, P. C. C., 2004, Science, 303, 1153-1157 A Double-Pulsar System: A Rare Laboratory for Relativistic Gravity and Plasma Physics
  3. Kramer, M., Stairs, I. H., Manchester, R. N., McLaughlin, M. A., Lyne, A. G., Ferdman, R. D., Burgay, M., Lorimer, D. R., Possenti, A., D'Amico, N., Sarkissian, J. M., Hobbs, G. B., Reynolds, J., Freire, P. C. C., Camilo, F., 2006, Science, 314, 97-102 Tests of General Relativity from Timing the Double Pulsar
  4. McLaughlin, M. A., Lyne, A. G., Lorimer, D. R., Possenti, A., Manchester, R. N., Camilo, F., Stairs, I. H., Kramer, M., Burgay, M., D'Amico, N., Freire, P. C. C., Joshi, B. C., Bhat, N. D. R., 2004, ApJ, 616, L131 The Double Pulsar System J0737-3039: Modulation of A by B at Eclipse
  5. McLaughlin, M. A., Kramer, M., Lyne, A. G., Lorimer, D. R., Stairs, I. H., Possenti, A., Manchester, R. N., Freire, P. C. C., Joshi, B. C., Burgay, M., Camilo, F., D'Amico, N., 2004, ApJ, 613, L57 The Double Pulsar System J0737-3039: Modulation of the Radio Emission from B by Radiation from A
  6. Perera, B. B. P., McLaughlin, M. A., Kramer, M., Stairs, I. H., Ferdman, R. D., Freire, P. C. C., Possenti, A., Breton, R. P., Manchester, R. N., Burgay, M., Lyne, A. G., Camilo, F., 2010, ApJ, 721, 1193 The Evolution of PSR J0737-3039B and a Model for Relativistic Spin Precession
  7. Kalogera, V. M., Kim, C., Lorimer, D. R., Burgay, M., D'Amico, N., Possenti, A., Manchester, R. N., Lyne, A. G., Joshi, B. C., McLaughlin, M. A., Kramer, M., Sarkissian, J. M., Camilo, F., 2004, ApJ, 601, L179-L182 The Cosmic Coalescence Rates for Double Neutron Star Binaries
  8. McLaughlin, M. A., Camilo, F., Burgay, M., D'Amico, N., Joshi, B. C., Kramer, M., Lorimer, D. R., Lyne, A. G., Manchester, R. N., Possenti, A., 2004, ApJ, 605, 41 X-Ray Emission from the Double Pulsar System J0737-3039
  9. Manchester, R. N., Kramer, M., Possenti, A., Lyne, A. G., Burgay, M., Stairs, I. H., Hotan, A. W., McLaughlin, M. A., Lorimer, D. R., Hobbs, G. B., Sarkissian, J. M., D'Amico, N., Camilo, F., Joshi, B. C., Freire, P. C. C., 2005, ApJ, 621, L49 The Mean Pulse Profile of PSR J0737-3039A
  10. Burgay, M., Possenti, A., Manchester, R. N., Kramer, M., McLaughlin, M. A., Lorimer, D. R., Stairs, I. H., Joshi, B. C., Lyne, A. G., Camilo, F., D'Amico, N., Freire, P. C. C., Sarkissian, J. M., Hotan, A. W., Hobbs, G. B., 2005, ApJ, 624, 113 Long-Term Variations in the Pulse Emission from PSR J0737-3039B
  11. Coles, W. A., McLaughlin, M. A., Rickett, B. J., Lyne, A. G., Bhat, N. D. R., 2005, ApJ, 623, 392 Probing the Eclipse of J0737-3039A with Scintillation
  12. Stairs, I. H., Thorsett, S. E., Dewey, R. J., Kramer, M., McPhee, C. A., 2006, MNRAS, 373, 50 The formation of the double pulsar PSR J0737-3039A/B
  13. Lorimer, D. R., Freire, P. C. C., Stairs, I. H., Kramer, M., McLaughlin, M. A., Burgay, M., Thorsett, S. E., Dewey, R. J., Lyne, A. G., Manchester, R. N., D'Amico, N., Possenti, A., Joshi, B. C., 2007, MNRAS, 379, 1217 Age constraints in the double pulsar system J0737-3039
  14. Breton, R. P., Kaspi, V. M., Kramer, M., McLaughlin, M. A., Lyutikov, M., Ransom, S. M., Stairs, I. H., Ferdman, R. D., Camilo, F., Possenti, A., 2008, Science, 321, 104 Relativistic Spin Precession in the Double Pulsar
  15. Possenti, A., Rea N., McLaughlin, M. A., Camilo, F., Kramer, M., Burgay, M., Joshi, B. C., Lyne, A. G., 2008, ApJ, 680, 654 The Very Soft X-Ray Spectrum of the Double Pulsar System J0737-3039
  16. Freire, P. C. C., Wex, N., Kramer, M., Lorimer, D. R., McLaughlin, M. A., Stairs, I. H., Rosen, R., Lyne, A. G., 2009, MNRAS, 396, 1764 A new technique for timing the double pulsar system
  17. Breton, R. P., Kaspi, V. M., McLaughlin, M. A., Lyutikov, M., Kramer, M., Stairs, I. H., Ransom, S. M., Ferdman, R. D., Camilo, F., Possenti, A., 2012, ApJ, 747, 89 The Double Pulsar Eclipses. I. Phenomenology and Multi-frequency Analysis
  18. Ferraro, F. R., Mignani, R. P., Pallanca, C., Dalessandro, E., Lanzoni, B., Pellizzoni, A., Possenti, A., Burgay, M., Camilo, F., D'Amico, N., Lyne, A. G., Kramer, M., Manchester, R. N., 2012, ApJ, 749, 84 Constraining the Optical Emission from the Double Pulsar System J0737-3039
  19. Guillemot, L., Kramer, M., Johnson, T. J., Craig, H. A., Romani, R. W., Venter, C., Harding, A. K., Ferdman, R. D., Stairs, I. H., Kerr, M., 2013, ApJ, 768, 169 Fermi LAT Pulsed Detection of PSR J0737-3039A in the Double Pulsar System
  20. Ferdman, R. D., Stairs, I. H., Kramer, M., Breton, R. P., McLaughlin, M. A., Freire, P. C. C., Possenti, A., Stappers, B. W., Kaspi, V. M., Manchester, R. N., Lyne, A. G., 2013, ApJ, 767, 85 The Double Pulsar: Evidence for Neutron Star Formation without an Iron Core-collapse Supernova