A millisecond pulsar in a stellar triple system

S. M. Ransom, I. H. Stairs, A. M. Archibald, J. W T Hessels, D. L. Kaplan, M. H. Van Kerkwijk, J. Boyles, A. T. Deller, S. Chatterjee, A. Schechtman-Rook, A. Berndsen, R. S. Lynch, D. R. Lorimer, C. Karako-Argaman, V. M. Kaspi, V. I. Kondratiev, M. A. McLaughlin, J. Van Leeuwen, R. Rosen, Mallory RobertsK. Stovall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Gravitationally bound three-body systems have been studied for hundreds of years and are common in our Galaxy. They show complex orbital interactions, which can constrain the compositions, masses and interior structures of the bodies and test theories of gravity, if sufficiently precise measurements are available. A triple system containing a radio pulsar could provide such measurements, but the only previously known such system, PSR B1620-26 (refs 7, 8; with a millisecond pulsar, a white dwarf, and a planetary-mass object in an orbit of several decades), shows only weak interactions. Here we report precision timing and multiwavelength observations of PSR J0337+1715, a millisecond pulsar in a hierarchical triple system with two other stars. Strong gravitational interactions are apparent and provide the masses of the pulsar (1.4378(13), where is the solar mass and the parentheses contain the uncertainty in the final decimal places) and the two white dwarf companions (0.19751(15) and 0.4101(3)), as well as the inclinations of the orbits (both about 39.2). The unexpectedly coplanar and nearly circular orbits indicate a complex and exotic evolutionary past that differs from those of known stellar systems. The gravitational field of the outer white dwarf strongly accelerates the inner binary containing the neutron star, and the system will thus provide an ideal laboratory in which to test the strong equivalence principle of general relativity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)520-524
Number of pages5
JournalNature
Volume505
Issue number7484
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 7 2014

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pulsars
orbits
planetary mass
stellar systems
circular orbits
gravitational fields
neutron stars
inclination
equivalence
relativity
time measurement
interactions
gravitation
galaxies
stars
orbitals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

Ransom, S. M., Stairs, I. H., Archibald, A. M., Hessels, J. W. T., Kaplan, D. L., Van Kerkwijk, M. H., ... Stovall, K. (2014). A millisecond pulsar in a stellar triple system. Nature, 505(7484), 520-524. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature12917

A millisecond pulsar in a stellar triple system. / Ransom, S. M.; Stairs, I. H.; Archibald, A. M.; Hessels, J. W T; Kaplan, D. L.; Van Kerkwijk, M. H.; Boyles, J.; Deller, A. T.; Chatterjee, S.; Schechtman-Rook, A.; Berndsen, A.; Lynch, R. S.; Lorimer, D. R.; Karako-Argaman, C.; Kaspi, V. M.; Kondratiev, V. I.; McLaughlin, M. A.; Van Leeuwen, J.; Rosen, R.; Roberts, Mallory; Stovall, K.

In: Nature, Vol. 505, No. 7484, 07.01.2014, p. 520-524.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Ransom, SM, Stairs, IH, Archibald, AM, Hessels, JWT, Kaplan, DL, Van Kerkwijk, MH, Boyles, J, Deller, AT, Chatterjee, S, Schechtman-Rook, A, Berndsen, A, Lynch, RS, Lorimer, DR, Karako-Argaman, C, Kaspi, VM, Kondratiev, VI, McLaughlin, MA, Van Leeuwen, J, Rosen, R, Roberts, M & Stovall, K 2014, 'A millisecond pulsar in a stellar triple system', Nature, vol. 505, no. 7484, pp. 520-524. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature12917
Ransom SM, Stairs IH, Archibald AM, Hessels JWT, Kaplan DL, Van Kerkwijk MH et al. A millisecond pulsar in a stellar triple system. Nature. 2014 Jan 7;505(7484):520-524. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature12917
Ransom, S. M. ; Stairs, I. H. ; Archibald, A. M. ; Hessels, J. W T ; Kaplan, D. L. ; Van Kerkwijk, M. H. ; Boyles, J. ; Deller, A. T. ; Chatterjee, S. ; Schechtman-Rook, A. ; Berndsen, A. ; Lynch, R. S. ; Lorimer, D. R. ; Karako-Argaman, C. ; Kaspi, V. M. ; Kondratiev, V. I. ; McLaughlin, M. A. ; Van Leeuwen, J. ; Rosen, R. ; Roberts, Mallory ; Stovall, K. / A millisecond pulsar in a stellar triple system. In: Nature. 2014 ; Vol. 505, No. 7484. pp. 520-524.
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