We have continued our long-term study of the double neutron star binary pulsar PSR B1534-12, using new instrumentation to make very high precision measurements at the Arecibo Observatory. We have significantly improved our solution for the astrometric, spin, and orbital parameters of the system as well as for the five "post-Keplerian" orbital parameters that can be used to test gravitation theory. The results are in good agreement with the predictions of general relativity. With the assumption that general relativity is the correct theory of gravity in the classical regime, our measurements allow us to determine the masses of the pulsar and its companion neutron star with high accuracy: 1.3332 ± 0.0010 Modot; and 1.3452 ± 0.0010 Modot;, respectively. The small but significant mass difference is difficult to understand in most evolutionary models, as the pulsar is thought to have been born first from a more massive progenitor star and then undergone a period of mass accretion before the formation of the second neutron star. PSR B1534+12 has also become a valuable probe of the local interstellar medium. We have now measured the pulsar distance to be 1.02 ± 0.05 kpc, giving a mean electron density along this line of sight of 0.011 cm-3. We continue to measure a gradient in the dispersion measure, though the rate of change is now slower than in the first years after the pulsar's discovery.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science