Searching for Gamma-ray Spiders

by Dr Colin Clark

Main Auditorium (Max Planck Institute for Physics)

Main Auditorium

Max Planck Institute for Physics

Föhringer Ring 6 80805 München

Millisecond pulsars are old neutron stars that have been "spun up" to millisecond spin periods by accreting matter from an orbiting companion star. A subclass of these objects are known as Spiders: millisecond pulsars with low-mass semi-degenerate companion stars that are heated and evaporated by the intense high-energy pulsar wind. This behaviour has led to them being nicknamed as "black widows" and "redbacks", after species of spiders that are infamous for devouring their companions after mating. However, this evaporation process produces large clouds of intra-binary material that can eclipse the pulsar's radio pulsations, making these systems unusually difficult to detect with traditional radio surveys. Fortunately, Spiders are also bright gamma-ray emitters, and their discovery rate has been increased dramatically in recent years by the ongoing all-sky survey conducted by the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, which continues to reveal promising pulsar candidates in which to search. In my talk I will give an overview of the rich phenomenology seen in Spider binaries, and present the latest results from our efforts to discover new Spider pulsars by directly searching for gamma-ray pulsations in the Fermi data.