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Binary pulsars and general relativity

  1. Sep 10, 2004 #1
    just wondering if anyone knows some interesting things about binary pulsars in relation to general relativity. i have to give a short presentation on the topic and need some ideas on what to talk about

    thanks in advance
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 10, 2004 #2


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    Try a google for "binary pulsar general relativity". You should find a lot of articles about PSR 1913+16, and the researchers who got the Nobel prize for their discovery.

    Basically this is one of the few strong-field confirmations of GR that we have. A pulsar is a highly accurate clock, so astronomy has blessed us with a naturally occuring relativistic experiment.
  4. Sep 10, 2004 #3
    It was the discovery of the first Binary pulsar in 1974 that strengthened the possibility of the existence of gravitational waves. It also got the dicsoverers one of the few Nobels given for astrophysics.

    You can find more information here:http://nobelprize.org/physics/laureates/1993/index.html
  5. Sep 10, 2004 #4
    thanks for the replies
    i will be sure to check out that link
  6. Sep 10, 2004 #5
    The two neutrons stars forming PSR 1913+16 are orbiting around the center of mass of the system, but are progressively coming closer together. They will eventually coalesce in about 300 million of years, emiting copious amounts of gravitational waves during the collision
  7. Sep 13, 2004 #6
    i'm just a little unclear about something
    is the common mass they orbit around a black hole? and can the pulsars actually be seen or only detected by the pulses they emit periodically?
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2004
  8. Sep 13, 2004 #7
    The two pulsars orbit around a common centre of mass and not a common mass and, as far as we know, it does not contain a blackhole. The concept of centre of mass makes it easier to study a system made up of many particles and it is not necessary for mass to exist and the centre of mass.

    Pulsars/Neurton stars are too small to be seen optically. It's surroundings can be detected with optical and x-ray telescopes.
  9. Sep 13, 2004 #8


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    As far as I know, only one of the two stars is a pulsar.
  10. Sep 13, 2004 #9
    You're right, but I don't why the system is usually referred to as 'Binary Pulsars'. PSR 1913+16 was the first known binay neutron star system and the only known binary pulsar is J0737–3039.
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