2 The Pulsar PhenomenonBinary and Millisecond PulsarsBinary and Millisecond Pulsars

1 Introduction

In the 30 years since the discovery of pulsars, rapidly rotating highly magnetised neutron stars, the study of these fascinating objects has resulted in many applications in Physics and Astronomy. Striking examples have been the confirmation of the existence of gravitational radiation [1Jump To The Next Citation Point In The Article] as predicted by Einstein's general theory of relativity [151Jump To The Next Citation Point In The Article, 152Jump To The Next Citation Point In The Article] and the first detection of an extra-solar planetary system [168Jump To The Next Citation Point In The Article, 2Jump To The Next Citation Point In The Article]. Currently, many new binary systems containing neutron stars are being discovered as a result of the latest generation of pulsar surveys. This review is concerned primarily with some of the results and spin-offs from these surveys which will be of particular interest to the Relativity community. The surveys themselves have been extensively reviewed by several authors [102, 39Jump To The Next Citation Point In The Article, 40] to which the interested reader is referred for further details.

By way of introduction, and to make the review fairly self-contained, we begin with an overview of the pulsar phenomenon (§ 2). This includes a brief review of the key observed population properties as well as a summary of the main theories concerned with the origin and evolution of pulsars. In § 3, we review present understanding of the Galactic population of pulsars, discussing selection effects in the major surveys (§ 3.1), and techniques used to correct the observed sample (§ 3.2). These studies lead to robust calculations of the total number of normal and millisecond pulsars (§ 3.3) and neutron star binaries (§ 3.4) in the Galaxy and have implications for the detection of gravitational radiation from these systems. Perhaps the most important application of pulsars to relativity is the high precision science known as ``pulsar timing'' discussed in § 4 . Here it is seen that some pulsars are exceptional celestial clocks (§ 4.4). One application, a sensitive detector of long-period gravitational waves, is discussed in § 5 . Finally, in § 6, we outline likely areas where progress may be made in the future.



2 The Pulsar PhenomenonBinary and Millisecond PulsarsBinary and Millisecond Pulsars

image Binary and Millisecond Pulsars
D. R. Lorimer (dunc@mpifr-bonn.mpg.de)
http://www.livingreviews.org/lrr-1998-10
© Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. ISSN 1433-8351
Problems/Comments to livrev@aei-potsdam.mpg.de