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Pulsar Timing — Strong Gravity Clock Experiments

  • Norbert Wex
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Physics book series (LNP, volume 562)

Abstract

25 years ago, in summer 1974, Joseph Taylor and Russell Hulse discovered the first binary pulsar, a pulsar in orbit with a compact companion which itself is most likely a neutron star. This pulsar, denoted PSR B1913+16, turned out to be the most exciting laboratory for testing relativistic gravity theories. Before the discovery of PSR B1913+16 all gravity experiments were confined to our solar system with its very weak gravitational fields. Hence, it has been possible to test gravity theories only in the first post-Newtonian approximation. Binary pulsars take us beyond the weak-field context because of their high orbital velocity and/or the strong self-gravitational fields of neutron stars.

To date, more than 70 binary pulsars have been discovered, most of them in orbit with a neutron star or a white dwarf. Many binary pulsars belong to a group of so-called millisecond pulsars which have very short rotational periods (< 20 ms) and slowdown rates of typically 10p-20, proving to be extremely accurate clocks. This gave rise to a variety of new gravity experiments, like tests for the strong equivalence principle. After a brief introduction to pulsars, the technical and theoretical aspects of binary- pulsar gravity experiments are reviewed. The latest results are presented and an outlook is given to future improvements of these experiments.

Keywords

Orbital Period Neutron Star White Dwarf Pulsar Timing Millisecond Pulsar 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Norbert Wex
    • 1
  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institut für RadioastronomieBonnGermany

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