A high braking index for a pulsar

R. F. Archibald, E. V. Gotthelf, R. D. Ferdman, V. M. Kaspi, S. Guillot, F. A. Harrison, E. F. Keane, M. J. Pivovaroff, D. Stern, S. P. Tendulkar, J. A. Tomsick

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We present a phase-coherent timing solution for PSR J1640–4631, a young 206 ms pulsar using X-ray timing observations taken with NuSTAR. Over this timing campaign, we have measured the braking index of PSR J1640–4631 to be n = 3.15 ± 0.03. Using a series of simulations, we argue that this unusually high braking index is not due to timing noise, but is intrinsic to the pulsar's spin-down. We cannot, however, rule out contamination due to an unseen glitch recovery, although the recovery timescale would have to be longer than most yet observed. If this braking index is eventually proven to be stable, it demonstrates that pulsar braking indices greater than three are allowed in nature; hence, other physical mechanisms such as mass or magnetic quadrupoles are important in pulsar spin-down. We also present a 3σ upper limit on the pulsed flux at 1.4 GHz of 0.018 mJy.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberL16
Number of pages5
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes

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