The unusual binary pulsar PSR J1744-3922: Radio flux variability, near-infrared observation, and evolution

R. P. Breton, M. S.E. Roberts, S. M. Ransom, V. M. Kaspi, M. Durant, P. Bergeron, A. J. Faulkner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PSR J1744-3922 is a binary pulsar exhibiting highly variable pulsed radio emission. We report on a statistical multifrequency study of the pulsed radio flux variability which suggests that this phenomenon is extrinsic to the pulsar and possibly tied to the companion, although not strongly correlated with orbital phase. The pulsar has an unusual combination of characteristics compared to typical recycled pulsars: a long spin period (172 ms); a relatively high magnetic field strength (1.7 × 1010 G); a very circular, compact orbit of 4.6 hr; and a low-mass companion (0.08 M). These spin and orbital properties are likely inconsistent with standard evolutionary models. We find similarities between the properties of the PSR J1744-3922 system and those of several other known binary pulsar systems, motivating the identification of a new class of binary pulsars. We suggest that this new class could result from: a standard accretion scenario of a magnetar or a high magnetic field pulsar; common envelope evolution with a low-mass star and a neutron star, similar to what is expected for ultracompact X-ray binaries; or accretion induced collapse of a white dwarf. We also report the detection of a possible K′ = 19.30(15) infrared counterpart at the position of the pulsar, which is relatively bright if the companion is a helium white dwarf at the nominal distance, and discuss its implications for the pulsar's companion and evolutionary history.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1073-1083
Number of pages11
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 I
StatePublished - Jun 1 2007


  • Pulsars: individual (PSR J1744-3922)
  • Stars: evolution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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