A Pair of Stellar Corpses Surrenders Secretsby xzhang
The GMOS-North light curve (top panel) and Fourier transform (bottom panel) for the optical companion to PSR J1738+0333. A comparison star is shown in blue, offset by -7%. We mark the 4 sigma and 3 sigma significance level as dashed green and blue lines, respectively. The three significant pulsations are marked with red lines in the bottom panel and the frequency solution is illustrated in the top panel.
Result in a Nutshell:
The universe is a place of extremes, but rarely do astronomers get a chance to observe two so closely associated as in this recent finding based on Gemini data. The observations, led by Mukremin Kilic of the University of Oklahoma, reveal a unique, very close pairing of stellar corpses that have different evolutionary histories: one is the extremely dense, mountain-sized remains of a supernova explosion (called a pulsar, a rapidly rotating neutron star spinning (in this case) at over 10,000 times per minute), and the other is a Neptune-sized cooling ember of a deceased Sun-like star (a white dwarf) that pulsates about every 30 minutes. Together, this orbiting pair provides a unique laboratory for the understanding, and testing of theoretical models on the mass, internal structure, and characteristics of neutron stars and white dwarfs – the evolutionary end-states of many, if not most, stars.
The paper is accepted for publication in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Letters and can be accessed at http://arxiv.org/abs/1410.4898.
Scientific Abstract (from the paper):