Time variability of pulsar dispersion measures

J. A. Phillips, A. Wolszczan

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Energetic events like supernova explosions, stellar winds, and expanding H II regions create turbulent irregularities in the interstellar electron density. The dispersion measure (DM) of a pulsar fluctuates as these irregularities drift past the line of sight. To monitor changes in the interstellar electron density we conducted 47 and 430 MHz timing observations of seven pulsars, once a month for 2 yr with the Arecibo radio telescope. DM variations were detected toward six of the seven objects. The root mean square variations were largest for the most distant pulsars, confirming that the fluctuations were indeed interstellar. Empirically we found σ̂DM ∝ DM1.3±0.3 over a 10:1 range in DM. A structure function analysis showed that the electron density fluctuation spectrum was of the form P(q) = Cn2 q, over a range of spatial scales 2πq≈ 109 to 1015 cm. The inferred power-law indices were α = 3.77 ± 0.04 for PSR 0834 + 06, 3.87 ± 0.03 for PSR 0823 + 26, and 3.85 ± 0.03 for PSR 0919 + 06.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L27-L30
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 PART 2
StatePublished - Nov 20 1991

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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