Transformation of a star into a planet in a millisecond pulsar binary

M. Bailes*, S. D. Bates, V. Bhalerao, N. D R Bhat, M. Burgay, S. Burke-Spolaor, N. D'Amico, S. Johnston, M. J. Keith, M. Kramer, S. R. Kulkarni, L. Levin, A. G. Lyne, S. Milia, A. Possenti, L. Spitler, B. Stappers, W. Van Straten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Millisecond pulsars are thought to be neutron stars that have been spun-up by accretion of matter from a binary companion. Although most are in binary systems, some 30% are solitary, and their origin is therefore mysterious. PSR J1719-1438, a 5.7-millisecond pulsar, was detected in a recent survey with the Parkes 64-meter radio telescope. We show that this pulsar is in a binary system with an orbital period of 2.2 hours. The mass of its companion is near that of Jupiter, but its minimum density of 23 grams per cubic centimeter suggests that it may be an ultralow-mass carbon white dwarf. This system may thus have once been an ultracompact low-mass x-ray binary, where the companion narrowly avoided complete destruction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1717-1720
Number of pages4
JournalScience
Volume333
Issue number6050
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes

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