Searching for Radio Pulses from the Redback Pulsar Candidate 3FGL J0212.1+5320

  • Eoin O'Kelly

Student thesis: Master of Science by Research


Binary pulsar systems that irradiate or ablate their companion are collectively called 'spider' pulsars. There are two groups of 'spider' pulsars: black widows and redbacks. This project was focused on searching L-band (1.4 GHz) radio data obtained by the Lovell telescope on the redback pulsar candidate 3FGL J0212.1+5320. The data were analysed using the pulsar searching software PRESTO within a dispersion measure (DM) range of 12.5 - 37.5 pc cm-3 , and then an acceleration search was conducted as this is a suspected binary system. The resulting candidates were folded and their prepfold plots analysed to assess whether a pulsar detection was present. No confirmed pulsar detections were found by our search within the data. The data were initially analysed in quarters, each ~ 1800 s in length. The sensitivity of this initial search was Smin = 0.20 mJy. This could be improved by searching the whole dataset utilising the full integration time of 7208.4 s which improved the sensitivity of the search to Smin = 0.10 mJy. The lower limit on the flux density enables an upper limit on the radio pseudo-luminosity, assuming that the reason for non-detection is luminosity rather than external factors such as beaming, eclipsing and Radio Frequency Interference (RFI). The radio pseudo-luminosity of our search was L1400 = 0.24 mJy kpc2 for the initial search, and L1400 = 0.12 mJy kpc2 for the whole dataset analysis. The sensitivity of our search is high enough to have detected the majority of known millisecond pulsars. The possible explanations for a non-detection are then discussed, such as eclipsing of the system, orientation of the radio emission region or the flux density of the target system being below the sensitivity limit of our search. The conclusion of this work is that reobserving this system at an optimal phase position is essential.
Date of Award1 Aug 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorLucio Piccirillo (Supervisor) & Rene Breton (Supervisor)


  • binary pulsar
  • spider pulsar
  • pulsar
  • pulsar searching

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