A Pulsar, the Heliosphere, and Pioneer 10: Probable Mimicking of a Planet of PSR B1257+12 by Solar Rotation

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Science  12 Dec 1997:
Vol. 278, Issue 5345, pp. 1919-1921
DOI: 10.1126/science.278.5345.1919

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Doppler data generated with the Pioneer 10 spacecraft's radio carrier wave between 1987 and 1995 show a 25.3-day periodicity which is related to the solar rotation. The timing data of the pulsar PSR B1257+12 also show a periodicity of 25.34 days, which has been explained as a signature of the pulsar's barycentric motion in response to the existence of a small moon-like object. However, because PSR B1257+12 is located close to the ecliptic and because the timing variations are in the range of microseconds, it is likely that the pulsar signal is affected by the same mechanism acting on the Pioneer 10 Doppler data. Hence, the hypothesized inner planet around PSR B1257+12 is probably an artifact of the heliosphere.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: scherer{at}

  • Present address: Max-Planck-Institut für Aeronomie, D-37191 Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany.

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