Lorne Nelson - Bishop's University

Title: Irradiation Cycles and the Evolution of Pulsar Binaries  (Video)

Abstract: Rapid advances in the field of pulsar astronomy have spurred theoretical efforts to devise models explaining the formation and evolution of a multitude of different classes of binary pulsars. Of special interest has been the discovery of neutron stars in these binaries with masses of approximately 2 Msun or greater; their existence allows us to rule out certain exotic equations of state (e.g., hyperon or boson condensates) describing the properties of matter at nuclear densities. In this talk, I will briefly describe some of the evolutionary pathways that can lead to the formation of recycled pulsars, and in particular millisecond pulsars, and then constrain the initial conditions that lead to the formation of observed high-mass neutron stars. I will also show that the effects of self-induced X-ray irradiation cannot be neglected and that this phenomenon naturally produces 'limit cycles'. These cycles may help explain the transitions that have been very recently observed between pulsar and low-mass X-ray binary states.