Pulsar timing for the Fermi gamma-ray space telescope

D. A. Smith, L. Guillemot, F. Camilo, I. Cognard, D. Dumora, C. Espinoza, P. C.C. Freire, E. V. Gotthelf, A. K. Harding, G. B. Hobbs, S. Johnston, V. M. Kaspi, M. Kramer, M. A. Livingstone, A. G. Lyne, R. N. Manchester, F. E. Marshall, M. A. McLaughlin, A. Noutsos, S. M. RansomM. S.E. Roberts, R. W. Romani, B. W. Stappers, G. Theureau, D. J. Thompson, S. E. Thorsett, N. Wang, P. Weltevrede

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We describe a comprehensive pulsar monitoring campaign for the Large Area Telescope (LAT) on the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope (formerly GLAST). The detection and study of pulsars in gamma rays give insights into the populations of neutron stars and supernova rates in the Galaxy, into particle acceleration mechanisms in neutron star magnetospheres, and into the "engines" driving pulsar wind nebulae. LAT's unprecedented sensitivity between 20 MeV and 300 GeV together with its 2.4 sr field-of-view makes detection of many gamma-ray pulsars likely, justifying the monitoring of over two hundred pulsars with large spin-down powers. To search for gamma-ray pulsations from most of these pulsars requires a set of phase-connected timing solutions spanning a year or more to properly align the sparse photon arrival times. We describe the choice of pulsars and the instruments involved in the campaign. Attention is paid to verifications of the LAT pulsar software, using for example giant radio pulses from the Crab and from PSR B1937+21 recorded at Nançay, and using X-ray data on PSR J0218+4232 from XMM-Newton. We demonstrate accuracy of the pulsar phase calculations at the microsecond level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)923-931
Number of pages9
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2008


  • Ephemerides
  • Gamma-rays: observations
  • Space vehicles: instruments
  • Stars: pulsars: general

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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