Universe  ID: 11215

PSR J1311-3430 'Black Widow' Pulsar Animations

The essential features of black widow binaries, and their cousins, known as redbacks, are that they place a normal but very low-mass star in close proximity to a millisecond pulsar, which has disastrous consequences for the star. Black widow systems contain stars that are both physically smaller and of much lower mass than those found in redbacks.

So far, astronomers have found at least 18 black widows and nine redbacks within the Milky Way, and additional members of each class have been discovered within the dense globular star clusters that orbit our galaxy.

These animations show artist's impressions of one system, named PSR J1311-3430. Discovered in 2012, J1311 sets the record for the tightest orbit of its class and contains one of the heaviest neutron stars known. The pulsar's featherweight companion, which is only a dozen or so times the mass of Jupiter and just 60 percent of its size, completes an orbit every 93 minutes – less time than it takes to watch most movies. Recent studies allow a range of values extending down to 2 solar masses for the pulsar, still among the highest-known for neutron stars.

 

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Credits

Cruz deWilde (Avant Gravity): Lead Animator
Scott Wiessinger (USRA): Producer
Roger Romani (Stanford University): Scientist
Francis Reddy (Syneren Technologies): Writer
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Cruz deWilde

Short URL to share this page:
http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/11215

Mission:
Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope

This item is part of this series:
Astrophysics Animations

Goddard TV Tape:
G2013-004 -- Fermi Black Widow Pulsar

Keywords:
SVS >> HDTV
SVS >> Neutron Star
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Spectral/Engineering >> Gamma Ray
SVS >> Astrophysics
SVS >> Pulsar
SVS >> Space
SVS >> Fermi
SVS >> Binary Star
SVS >> Star
NASA Science >> Universe

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version 8.0.0.0.0