Benchmarking Asymmetrical Heating Models of Spider Pulsar Companions

  • Pengyue Sun

Student thesis: Master of Science by Research


Spider pulsars belong to a special branch of millisecond pulsars, consisting of an energetic primary neutron star and a low mass companion in a compact orbit. This companion star is so intensely irradiated that it might be finally devoured. Modelling this companion's optical light curves is one of the most important tools to study the properties of these bizarre binary systems. In this research, we aim to benchmark irradiated models, in particular asymmetrical heating redistribution models such as diffusion, convection and diffusion+convection. We used models implemented in the software Icarus to create mock data sets and to fit the parameters required. Among all the asymmetrical models tested, we find that there is no major difference between goodness of fit. However, the accuracy of each fitted parameters' recovery varies dramatically depending on the heating model, and will imply different physical properties for the spider system. In the end, we note that the mock data sets could be problematic, and discuss further optimization. We also propose that certain correlations between parameters are important and future work and complementary observations could be necessary to determine the true heating laws on the spider surface.
Date of Award9 Jan 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorRene Breton (Supervisor) & Jens Chluba (Supervisor)


  • Spider Pulsar
  • Pulsar

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