Relativistic spin precession in the double pulsar

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Science 321,5885 (2008) 104-107;


The double pulsar PSR J0737-3039A/B consists of two neutron stars in a highly relativistic orbit that displays a roughly 30- second eclipse when pulsar A passes behind pulsar B. Describing this eclipse of pulsar A as due to absorption occurring in the magnetosphere of pulsar B, we successfully used a simple geometric model to characterize the observed changing eclipse morphology and to measure the relativistic precession of pulsar B's spin axis around the total orbital angular momentum. This provides a test of general relativity and alternative theories of gravity in the strong- field regime. Our measured relativistic spin precession rate of 4.77 degrees+(0 degrees.66)(-0 degrees.65) per year ( 68% confidence level) is consistent with that predicted by general relativity within an uncertainty of 13%.


Multidisciplinary Sciences

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