Identification of the Optical Counterpart of Fermi Black Widow Millisecond Pulsar PSR J1544+4937

Rene Breton, S {Tang}, D L {Kaplan}, E S {Phinney}, T A {Prince}, E {Bellm}, L {Bildsten}, Y {Cao}, A K H {Kong}, D A {Perley}, B {Sesar}, W M {Wolf}, T-C {Yen}

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    We report the optical identification of the companion to the Fermi black widow millisecond pulsar PSR J1544+4937. We find a highly variable source on Keck Low Resolution Imaging Spectrometer images at the nominal pulsar position, with 2 mag variations over orbital period in the B, g, R, and I bands. The nearly achromatic light curves are difficult to explain with a simply irradiated hemisphere model, and suggest that the optical emission is dominated by a nearly isothermal hot patch on the surface of the companion facing the pulsar. We roughly constrain the distance to PSR J1544+4937 to be between 2 and 5 kpc. A more reliable distance measurement is needed in order to constrain the composition of the companion.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
    Volume791
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014

    Keywords

    • binaries: general
    • gamma rays: stars
    • pulsars: individual: PSR J1544+4937
    • white dwarfs

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