Fruchter et al.1 have recently announced the discovery of a 1.6-millisecond pulsar, 1957 + 20, in a 9.2-hour eclipsing binary system and have proposed that the eclipses are due to a pulsar-excited wind derived from its ∼0.024 M⊙ companion. Here we argue that the companion is a stripped, degenerate hydrogen core being ablated by the pulsar, a process that will be complete in ≲108 yr, leaving an isolated millisecond pulsar like 1937 + 21. This interpretation can be tested both by using the pulsar pulses to perform radio soundings of the interface between the two winds, and by future optical, X-ray and γ-ray observations. Our evolutionary model for this object predicts that there should be no hydrogen-rich, low-mass X-ray binaries (LMXB) with orbital periods ≲5 hours.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution
Subscribe to this journal
Receive 51 print issues and online access
$199.00 per year
only $3.90 per issue
Rent or buy this article
Prices vary by article type
Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout
Fruchter, A. S., Stinebring, D. R. & Taylor, J. H. Nature 333, 237–239 (1988).
Pennington, R. in Interacting Binary Stars (eds Pringle, J. E. & Wade, R. A.) 197–199 (Cambridge University Press, 1985).
Nelson, L. A., Rappaport, S. A. & Joss, P. C. Astrophys. J. 311, 226–240 (1986).
Stevenson, D. J. in Astrophysics of Brown Dwarfs (ed. Kafatos, M. C.) 218–232 (Cambridge University Press, 1986).
van den Heuvel, E. P. J., van Paradijs, J. & Taam, R. E. Nature 322, 153–155 (1986).
Alpar, M. A., Cheng, A. F., Ruderman, M. A. & Shaham, J. Nature 300, 728–730 (1982).
White, N. E. & Stella, L. Nature 332, 416–418 (1988).
D'Antona, F. & Mazzitelli, I. Astrophys. J. 296, 502–513 (1985).
Wagoner, R. V. Astrophys. J. 278, 345–348 (1984).
White, N. E. in The Evolution of Galactic X-ray Binaries (eds Trümper, J., Lewin, W. H. G. & Brinkman, W.) 227–237 (Reidel, Dordrecht, 1986).
Tutukov, A. V., Fedorova, A. V., Ergma, E. V. & Yungel'son, L. R. Astrofizika 24, 85–96 (1986).
Verbunt, F., Rappaport, S. A. & Joss, P. C. in Cataclysmic Variables and Low-Mass X-ray Binaries (eds Lamb, D. Q. & Patterson, J.) 39–43 (Reidel, Dordrecht, 1985).
Webbink, R. F. in Interacting Binary Stars (eds Pringle, J. E. & Wade, R. A.) 39–70 (Cambridge University Press, 1985).
Priedhorsky, W. C. & Verbunt, F. Astrophys. J. (submitted).
Ruderman, M. A. & Shaham, J. Astrophys. J. 289, 244–246 (1985).
Rappaport, S. A. & Joss, P. C. Astrophys. J. 283, 232–240 (1984).
Nelson, L. A., Rappaport, S. A. & Joss, P. C. Astrophys. J. 304, 231–240 (1986).
Romani, R. W., Kulkarni, S. R. & Blandford, R. D. Nature 329, 309–310 (1988).
Kulkarni, S. R. & Narayan, R. Astrophys. J. (in the press).
About this article
Cite this article
Phinney, E., Evans, C., Blandford, R. et al. Ablating dwarf model for eclipsing millisecond pulsar 1957 + 20. Nature 333, 832–834 (1988). https://doi.org/10.1038/333832a0
This article is cited by
Journal of Astrophysics and Astronomy (2017)
Journal of Astrophysics and Astronomy (2016)
Astrophysics and Space Science (2013)
The Astronomy and Astrophysics Review (2013)