Optical Spectroscopy and Demographics of Redback Millisecond Pulsar Binaries

Jay Strader, Samuel Swihart, Laura Chomiuk, Arash Bahramian, Chris Britt, C. C. Cheung, Kristen Dage, Jules Halpern, Kwan Lok Li, Roberto P. Mignani, Jerome A. Orosz, Mark Peacock, Ricardo Salinas, Laura Shishkovsky, Evangelia Tremou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


We present the first optical spectroscopy of five confirmed (or strong candidate) redback millisecond pulsar binaries, obtaining complete radial velocity curves for each companion star. The properties of these millisecond pulsar binaries with low-mass, hydrogen-rich companions are discussed in the context of the 14 confirmed and 10 candidate field redbacks. We find that the neutron stars in redbacks have a median mass of 1.78 ± 0.09 M o with a dispersion of σ = 0.21 ± 0.09. Neutron stars with masses in excess of 2 M o are consistent with, but not firmly demanded by, current observations. Redback companions have median masses of 0.36 ± 0.04 M o with a scatter of σ = 0.15 ± 0.04 M o , and a tail possibly extending up to 0.7-0.9 M o . Candidate redbacks tend to have higher companion masses than confirmed redbacks, suggesting a possible selection bias against the detection of radio pulsations in these more massive candidate systems. The distribution of companion masses between redbacks and the less massive black widows continues to be strongly bimodal, which is an important constraint on evolutionary models for these systems. Among redbacks, the median efficiency of converting the pulsar spin-down energy to γ-ray luminosity is ∼10%.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA42
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Feb 10

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Optical Spectroscopy and Demographics of Redback Millisecond Pulsar Binaries'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this