The search and study of extreme neutron stars

  • James Stringer

Student thesis: Phd


Millisecond pulsars – highly magnetised neutron stars rotating with millisecond periods – are usually observed in binary systems as they are ‘spun up’ to such fast periods by the accretion of matter from their companion. The ‘spider’ class of binary contains a millisecond pulsar and a low mass, degenerate companion in a tight orbit which is irradiated by the pulsar wind, resulting in distinct observable properties across the whole electromagnetic spectrum. The first part of this research presents new optical photometry of two systems, PSR J1023+0038 and PSR J1227–4853, which display transitions between the aforementioned accretion phase and the spider phase. We find that through modelling these data we gain insights into the nature of this transition. The second concerns the search for new spider systems with the creation of a classification pipeline for the new Gravitational-wave Optical Transient Observatory telescope project, employing periodicity search and machine learning classification techniques. We discuss the application of this pipeline to commissioning data from this fledgling project, and how the shortfalls we encountered can be overcome.
Date of Award31 Dec 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorMichael Keith (Supervisor) & Rene Breton (Supervisor)


  • binaries
  • surveys
  • machine learning
  • astronomy
  • neutron stars
  • pulsars

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