A.S. van Amesfoort
- LOFAR Discovery of the Fastest-spinning Millisecond Pulsar in the Galactic Field
- Astrophysical Journal Letters
- Volume | Issue number
- 846 | 2
- Article number
- Number of pages
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy (API)
We report the discovery of PSR J0952−0607, a 707 Hz binary millisecond pulsar that is now the fastest-spinning neutron star known in the Galactic field (i.e., outside of a globular cluster). PSR J0952−0607 was found using LOFAR at a central observing frequency of 135 MHz, well below the 300 MHz to 3 GHz frequencies typically used in pulsar searches. The discovery is part of an ongoing LOFAR survey targeting unassociated Fermi-Large Area Telescope γ-ray sources. PSR J0952−0607 is in a 6.42 hr orbit around a very low-mass companion (Mc ≳ 0.02 M⊙), and we identify a strongly variable optical source, modulated at the orbital period of the pulsar, as the binary companion. The light curve of the companion varies by 1.6 mag from r'= 22.2 at maximum to r' > 23.8, indicating that it is irradiated by the pulsar wind. Swift observations place a 3σ upper limit on the 0.3 - 10 keV X-ray luminosity of LX < 1.1 × 1031 erg s−1 (using the 0.97 kpc distance inferred from the dispersion measure). Though no eclipses of the radio pulsar are observed, the properties of the system classify it as a black widow binary. The radio pulsed spectrum of PSR J0952−0607, as determined through flux density measurements at 150 and 350 MHz, is extremely steep with α ~ -3 (where S ∝ να). We discuss the growing evidence that the fastest-spinning radio pulsars have exceptionally steep radio spectra, as well as the prospects for finding more sources like PSR J0952−0607.
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- © 2017. The American Astronomical Society
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