Journal Article

Lutz–Kelker bias in pulsar parallax measurements

J. P. W. Verbiest, D. R. Lorimer and M. A. McLaughlin

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 405, issue 1, pages 564-572
Published in print June 2010 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online June 2010 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2010.16488.x
Lutz–Kelker bias in pulsar parallax measurements

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Lutz and Kelker showed that parallax measurements are systematically overestimated because they do not properly account for the larger volume of space that is sampled at smaller parallax values. We apply their analysis to neutron stars, incorporating the bias introduced by the intrinsic radio luminosity function and a realistic Galactic population model for neutron stars. We estimate the bias for all published neutron star parallax measurements and find that measurements with less than ∼95 per cent certainty are likely to be significantly biased. Through inspection of historic parallax measurements, we confirm the described effects in optical and radio measurements as well as in distance estimates based on interstellar dispersion measures. The potential impact on future tests of relativistic gravity through pulsar timing and on X-ray-based estimates of neutron star radii is briefly discussed.

Keywords: stars: distances; pulsars: general

Journal Article.  5690 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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