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A test of general relativity from the three-dimensional orbital geometry of a binary pulsar

van Straten, W. and Bailes, M. and Britton, M. and Kulkarni, S. R. and Anderson, S. B. and Manchester, R. N. and Sarkissian, J. (2001) A test of general relativity from the three-dimensional orbital geometry of a binary pulsar. Nature, 412 (6843). pp. 158-160. ISSN 0028-0836.

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Binary pulsars provide an excellent system for testing general relativity because of their intrinsic rotational stability and the precision with which radio observations can be used to determine their orbital dynamics. Measurements of the rate of orbital decay of two pulsars have been shown to be consistent with the emission of gravitational waves as predicted by general relativity, but independent verification was not possible. Such verification can in principle be obtained by determining the orbital inclination in a binary pulsar system using only classical geometrical constraints. This would permit a measurement of the expected retardation of the pulse signal arising from the general relativistic curvature of space-time in the vicinity of the companion object (the 'Shapiro delay'). Here we report high-precision radio observations of the binary millisecond pulsar PSR J0437-4715, which establish the three-dimensional structure of its orbit. We see the Shapiro delay predicted by general relativity, and we determine the mass of the neutron star and its white dwarf companion. The determination of such masses is necessary in order to understand the origin and evolution of neutron stars.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription ReadCube access
Bailes, M.0000-0003-3294-3081
Kulkarni, S. R.0000-0001-5390-8563
Additional Information:© 2001 Macmillan Magazines Ltd. Received 22 March 2001; Accepted 29 May 2001. The Parkes Observatory is part of the Australia Telescope which is funded by the Commonwealth of Australia for operation as a National Facility managed by CSIRO. We thank the staff at Parkes Observatory for technical assistance and performance of regular observations. S.R.K. and S.B.A. thank NSF and NASA for supporting their work at Parkes. We also thank R. Edwards and M. Toscano for comments on the text. We received support from Compaq and the Space Geodynamics Laboratory of the Centre for Research in Earth and Space Technology. M. Bailes is an ARC Senior Research Fellow.
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Commonwealth of AustraliaUNSPECIFIED
Centre for Research in Earth and Space Technology Compaq and Space Geodynamics LaboratoryUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:6843
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20150331-081305319
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Official Citation:A test of general relativity from the three-dimensional orbital geometry of a binary pulsar p158 W. van Straten, M. Bailes, M. Britton, S. R, Kulkarni, S. B. Anderson, R. N. Manchester and J. Sarkissian doi:10.1038/35084015
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:56228
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:31 Mar 2015 16:06
Last Modified:09 Mar 2020 13:18

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