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  Einstein@Home discovery of the gamma-ray millisecond pulsar PSR J2039–5617 confirms its predicted redback nature

Clark, C. J., Nieder, L., Voisin, G., Allen, B., Aulbert, C., Behnke, B., et al. (2021). Einstein@Home discovery of the gamma-ray millisecond pulsar PSR J2039–5617 confirms its predicted redback nature. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 502(1), 915-934. doi:10.1093/mnras/staa3484.

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 Creators:
Clark, C. J., Author
Nieder, L.1, Author              
Voisin, G., Author
Allen, B.1, Author              
Aulbert, C.1, Author              
Behnke, B.1, Author              
Breton, R. P., Author
Choquet, C., Author
Corongiu, A., Author
Dhillon, V. S., Author
Eggenstein, H.-B.1, Author              
Fehrmann, H.1, Author              
Guillemot, L., Author
Harding, A. K., Author
Kennedy, M. R., Author
Machenschalk, B.1, Author              
Marsh, T. R., Author
Sánchez, D. Mata, Author
Mignani, R. P., Author
Stringer, J., Author
Wadiasingh, Z., AuthorWu, J., Author more..
Affiliations:
1Observational Relativity and Cosmology, AEI-Hannover, MPI for Gravitational Physics, Max Planck Society, ou_24011              

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Free keywords: Astrophysics, High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena, astro-ph.HE
 Abstract: The Fermi Large Area Telescope gamma-ray source 3FGL J2039.6$-$5618 contains a periodic optical and X-ray source that was predicted to be a "redback" millisecond pulsar (MSP) binary system. However, the conclusive identification required the detection of pulsations from the putative MSP. To better constrain the orbital parameters for a directed search for gamma-ray pulsations, we obtained new optical light curves in 2017 and 2018, which revealed long-term variability from the companion star. The resulting orbital parameter constraints were used to perform a targeted gamma-ray pulsation search using the Einstein@Home distributed volunteer computing system. This search discovered pulsations with a period of 2.65 ms, confirming the source as a binary MSP now known as PSR J2039$-$5617. The pulsar's orbital Doppler shift indicates a companion mass of 0.15 to 0.22 $M_{\odot}$, confirming the redback classification. Optical light curve modelling is complicated by variability, but we find an inclination $i > 70{\deg}$, for a low pulsar mass between $1.1 M_{\odot} < M_{\rm psr} < 1.35 M_{\odot}$. Timing the gamma-ray pulsations also revealed significant variability in the orbital period, which we find to be consistent with quadrupole moment variations in the companion star, suggestive of convective activity. We also find that the pulsed flux is modulated at the orbital period, potentially due to inverse Compton scattering between high-energy leptons in the pulsar wind and the companion star's optical photon field.

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 Dates: 2020-07-292021
 Publication Status: Published in print
 Pages: 21 pages, 11 figures, submitted to MNRAS
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Title: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Source Genre: Journal
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Pages: - Volume / Issue: 502 (1) Sequence Number: - Start / End Page: 915 - 934 Identifier: -