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Increasing the Census of Millisecond Pulsars with VLITE

Presentation #125.01 in the session Neutron Stars, Black Holes and Supernovae.

Published onJul 01, 2023
Increasing the Census of Millisecond Pulsars with VLITE

Pulsars can form the basis of a navigation and timekeeping system analogous to Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) but able to operate from low Earth orbit to cislunar, interplanetary and interstellar space without degradation. X-ray pulsar- based Navigation (XNAV) is a promising approach that uses millisecond pulsars (MSPs) to determine spacecraft location independent of ground contact and GNSS availability. However, only seven MSPs with the timing stability and X-ray brightness necessary for XNAV are currently known, greatly limiting the performance of these systems. We present a program for discovery of new MSPs utilizing the Naval Research Laboratory’s (NRL) VLA Low-band Ionosphere and Transient Experiment (VLITE). VLITE is an NRL-developed system in which a subset of dishes from the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA), have been fitted with a parallel system that commensally observes the 340 MHz sky during most normal 1-50 GHz VLA science operations. VLITE’s growing data archive already includes over 50,000 hours of data covering 80% of the sky with millions of strong radio emitters, hundreds of which may be previously undiscovered MSPs. MSP candidates are identified as compact VLITE sources with ultra-steep radio spectra and followed-up with timing observations. This method has already proved successful with the discovery of a MSP in candidate globular cluster Glimpse-C01. New MSP discoveries flowing from this program may advance the state of the art of XNAV and also enhance pulsar timing arrays for low frequency gravitational wave detection.

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