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An observational test for the existence of a planetary system orbiting PSR1257 + 12

Rasio, F. A. and Nicholson, P. D. and Shapiro, S. L. and Teukolsky, S. A. (1992) An observational test for the existence of a planetary system orbiting PSR1257 + 12. Nature, 355 (6358). pp. 325-326. ISSN 0028-0836. doi:10.1038/355325a0.

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FOLLOWING the first report of an object of planetary mass orbiting a pulsar, Wolszczan and Frail have now reported the even more surprising discovery of two planet-size companions in orbit around the nearby millisecond pulsar PSR1257+12. The orbital periods of the two planets are about 98 days and 67 days, very close to a 3:2 ratio. Here we point out that, because of this near commensurability, the mutual gravitational perturbations of the two planets should produce not only small secular changes, but also larger periodic changes in their orbital elements. In particular, we find that changes in the eccentricities and orbital periods should become measurable within a few years. Such a measurement would help determine the three masses in the system and the inclinations of the orbits. More importantly, a detection of these changes, if they accord with the theoretical predictions presented here, would provide irrefutable confirmation that the periodic residuals observed by Wolszczan and Frail are indeed caused by orbiting planets, rather than some other effect. For the single planet-size object previously reported1 around the pulsar PS R1829–10, there is no dynamical test analogous to the one proposed here to confirm the planetary interpretation.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription ReadCube access
Rasio, F. A.0000-0002-7132-418X
Nicholson, P. D.0000-0003-2275-4463
Teukolsky, S. A.0000-0001-9765-4526
Additional Information:© 1992 Nature Publishing Group. We thank A. Wolszczan for discussions and for communicating results before publication. We also thank J Lissauer for drawing our attention to the Hill's sphere constraint. This work has been supported in part by NSF and NASA grants to Cornell University.
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Issue or Number:6358
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20180606-165654476
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:86876
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:07 Jun 2018 21:45
Last Modified:15 Nov 2021 20:43

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