The strange case of transitional millisecond pulsars: pulsating in optical and UV wavebands

Amruta Jaodand (Caltech)
Friday, March 11, 2022 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm

Transitional millisecond pulsars (tMSPs) switch between a low-mass X-ray binary (LMXB) and a radio millisecond pulsar (RMSP) state, establishing a firm evolutionary link between the two source classes. tMSPs provide a great avenue to study the low-level accretion processes that spin-up pulsars to millisecond periods. Systematic, multi-wavelength observational campaigns over the last decade have resulted in surprising finds such as: i) persistent, multi-year-long, low-level (Lx <10^34 ergs/s) accretion state with coherent pulsations; ii) radio outflows, and iii) uninterrupted pulsar spin down in the X-rays. In this unique state, we have now found the first known UV millisecond pulsar with a dedicated multi-wavelength campaign involving the Hubble space telescope. I will summarize the current state of play for tMSPs while highlighting these exciting discoveries which challenge our understanding of pulsar emission mechanism.

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