Journal Article

A transient component in the pulse profile of PSR J0738−4042

A. Karastergiou, S. J. Roberts, S. Johnston, H. Lee, P. Weltevrede and M. Kramer

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 415, issue 1, pages 251-256
Published in print July 2011 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online July 2011 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2011.18697.x
A transient component in the pulse profile of PSR J0738−4042

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One of the tenets of the radio pulsar observational picture is that the integrated pulse profiles are constant with time. This assumption underpins much of the fantastic science made possible via pulsar timing. Over the past few years, however, this assumption has come under question with a number of pulsars showing pulse shape changes on a range of time-scales. Here, we show the dramatic appearance of a bright component in the pulse profile of PSR J0738−4042 (B0736−40). The component arises on the leading edge of the profile. It was not present in 2004 but strongly present in 2006 and all observations thereafter. A subsequent search through the literature shows that the additional component varies in flux density over time-scales of decades. We show that the polarization properties of the transient component are consistent with the picture of competing orthogonal polarization modes. Faced with the general problem of identifying and characterizing average profile changes, we outline and apply a statistical technique based on a hidden Markov model. The value of this technique is established through simulations and is shown to work successfully in the case of low signal-to-noise ratio profiles.

Keywords: pulsars: individual: J0738−4042; pulsars: individual: B0736−40

Journal Article.  3853 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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