Research Article

An Eccentric Binary Millisecond Pulsar in the Galactic Plane

Science  06 Jun 2008:
Vol. 320, Issue 5881, pp. 1309-1312
DOI: 10.1126/science.1157580

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Abstract

Binary pulsar systems are superb probes of stellar and binary evolution and the physics of extreme environments. In a survey with the Arecibo telescope, we have found PSR J1903+0327, a radio pulsar with a rotational period of 2.15 milliseconds in a highly eccentric (e = 0.44) 95-day orbit around a solar mass (Math) companion. Infrared observations identify a possible main-sequence companion star. Conventional binary stellar evolution models predict neither large orbital eccentricities nor main-sequence companions around millisecond pulsars. Alternative formation scenarios involve recycling a neutron star in a globular cluster, then ejecting it into the Galactic disk, or membership in a hierarchical triple system. A relativistic analysis of timing observations of the pulsar finds its mass to be 1.74 ± 0.04 Math, an unusually high value.

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