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Binary Millisecond Pulsar Discovery via Gamma-Ray Pulsations

Science  07 Dec 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6112, pp. 1314-1317
DOI: 10.1126/science.1229054

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Abstract

Millisecond pulsars, old neutron stars spun up by accreting matter from a companion star, can reach high rotation rates of hundreds of revolutions per second. Until now, all such “recycled” rotation-powered pulsars have been detected by their spin-modulated radio emission. In a computing-intensive blind search of gamma-ray data from the Fermi Large Area Telescope (with partial constraints from optical data), we detected a 2.5-millisecond pulsar, PSR J1311−3430. This unambiguously explains a formerly unidentified gamma-ray source that had been a decade-long enigma, confirming previous conjectures. The pulsar is in a circular orbit with an orbital period of only 93 minutes, the shortest of any spin-powered pulsar binary ever found.

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