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Published January 10, 2016 | Submitted + Published
Journal Article Open

Properties and Evolution of the Redback Millisecond Pulsar Binary PSR J2129-0429


PSR J2129−0429 is a "redback" eclipsing millisecond pulsar binary with an unusually long 15.2 hr orbit. It was discovered by the Green Bank Telescope in a targeted search of unidentified Fermi gamma-ray sources. The pulsar companion is optically bright (mean m_R = 16.6 mag), allowing us to construct the longest baseline photometric data set available for such a system. We present 10 years of archival and new photometry of the companion from the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research Survey, the Catalina Real-time Transient Survey, the Palomar Transient Factory, the Palomar 60 inch, and the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope. Radial velocity spectroscopy using the Double-Beam Spectrograph on the Palomar 200 inch indicates that the pulsar is massive: 1.74 ± 0.18 M_☉. The G-type pulsar companion has mass 0.44 ± 0.04 M_☉, one of the heaviest known redback companions. It is currently 95 ± 1% Roche-lobe filling and only mildly irradiated by the pulsar. We identify a clear 13.1 mmag yr^(−1) secular decline in the mean magnitude of the companion as well as smaller-scale variations in the optical light curve shape. This behavior may indicate that the companion is cooling. Binary evolution calculations indicate that PSR J2129−0429 has an orbital period almost exactly at the bifurcation period between systems that converge into tighter orbits as black widows and redbacks and those that diverge into wider pulsar–white dwarf binaries. Its eventual fate may depend on whether it undergoes future episodes of mass transfer and increased irradiation.

Additional Information

© 2016. The American Astronomical Society. Received 2015 October 4; accepted 2015 December 1; published 2016 January 14. T.A.P., E.C.B., and S.T. acknowledge partial support through NASA Grant No. NNX12AO76G. R.P.B. has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme under grant agreement PIIF-GA-2012-332393. J.W.T.H. acknowledges funding from an NWO Vidi fellowship and ERC Starting Grant "DRAGNET" (337062). E.C.B. and T.A.P. thank the Aspen Center for Physics and the NSF Grant #1066293 for hospitality during the editing of this paper. This paper is based in part on observations obtained with the Palomar 48 inch Oschin telescope and the robotic Palomar 60-inch telescope at the Palomar Observatory as part of the Palomar Transient Factory project, a scientific collaboration among the California Institute of Technology, Columbia University, Las Cumbres Observatory, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, the University of Oxford, and the Weizmann Institute of Science; and the Intermediate Palomar Transient Factory project, a scientific collaboration among the California Institute of Technology, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, the Oskar Klein Center, the Weizmann Institute of Science, the TANGO Program of the University System of Taiwan, and the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the universe. The CSS survey is funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under Grant No. NNG05GF22G issued through the Science Mission Directorate Near-Earth Objects Observations Program. The CRTS survey is supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation under grants AST-0909182, AST-1313422, and AST-1413600. This work makes use of observations from the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network. Facilities: Hale (Double Beam Spectrograph) - Palomar Observatory's 5.1m Hale Telescope, PO:1.2 m (Palomar Transient Factory) - , PO:1.5 m - , LCOGT - Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope.

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Published - Bellm_2016p74.pdf

Submitted - 1510.00721v1.pdf


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