Understanding the Neutron Star Population with the SKA

T M Tauris, V M Kaspi, Rene Breton, A T Deller, E F Keane, M Kramer, D R Lorimer, M A McLaughlin, A Possenti, P S Ray, B W Stappers, P Weltevrede

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Since their discovery in the late 1960's the population of known neutron stars (NSs) has grown to ~2500. The last five decades of observations have yielded many surprises and demonstrated that the observational properties of NSs are remarkably diverse. The surveys that will be performed with SKA (the Square Kilometre Array) will produce a further tenfold increase in the number of Galactic NSs known. Moreover, the SKA's broad spectral coverage, sub-arraying and multi-beaming capabilities will allow us to characterise these sources with unprecedented efficiency, in turn enabling a giant leap in the understanding of their properties. Here we review the NS population and outline our strategies for studying each of the growing number of diverse classes that are populating the "NS zoo". Some of the main scientific questions that will be addressed by the much larger statistical samples and vastly improved timing efficiency provided by SKA include: (i) the spin period and spin-down rate distributions (and thus magnetic fields) at birth, and the associated information about the SNe wherein they are formed; (ii) the radio pulsar-magnetar connection; (iii) the link between normal radio pulsars, intermittent pulsars and rotating radio transients; (iv) the slowest possible spin period for a radio pulsar (revealing the conditions at the pulsar death-line); (v) proper motions of pulsars (revealing SN kick physics); (vi) the mass distribution of NSs (vii) the fastest possible spin period for a recycled pulsar (constraining magnetosphere-accretion disc interactions, gravitational wave radiation and the equation-of-state); (viii) the origin of high eccentricity millisecond pulsars (MSPs); (ix) the formation channels for recently identified triple systems; and finally (x) how isolated MSPs are formed. We expect that the SKA will break new ground unveiling exotic systems that will challenge... [abridged]
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalAdvancing Astrophysics with the Square Kilometre Array (AASKA14)
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

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