Binary pulsar J0737-3039 - evidence for a new core collapse and neutron star formation mechanism

Simone Dall'Osso, Tsvi Piran, Nir Shaviv

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The binary pulsar J0737-3039 is the only known system having two observable pulsars, thus offering a unique laboratory to test general relativity and explore pulsar physics. Based on the low eccentricity and the position within the galactic plane, two of us have argued that pulsar B had a non-standard formation scenario with little or no mass ejection and predicted that the system would have a very slow proper motion. Pulsar timing measurements confirmed this prediction. The recent observations of the alignment between the spin of pulsar A and the binary orbit is also in agreement with this scenario. Detailed simulations of the formation process of pulsar B show that its progenitor, just before the collapse, was a massive O-Ne-Mg white dwarf surrounded by a tenuous, 0.1-0.16M⊙, envelope. This envelope was ejected when the white dwarf collapsed to form a neutron star. Pulsar B was born as a slow rotator (spin period ~1 s) and a kick received when the pulsar formed changed its spin direction to the current one. This realization sheds light on the angular momentum evolution of the progenitor star, a process which is strongly affected by interaction with the binary companion. The slow proper motion of the system also implies that the system must have undergone a phase of mass transfer in which star A shed a significant fraction of its mass on to B.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1005-1013
Number of pages9
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Binaries: close
  • Dense matter
  • Pulsar: individual:J0737-3039
  • Stars: evolution
  • Stars: neutron
  • White dwarfs


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