Search for Protoplanetary and Debris Disks Around Millisecond Pulsars
NAVAL RESEARCH LAB WASHINGTON DC REMOTE SENSING DIV
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The identification of planetary companions around the nearby millisecond radio pulsar PSR B125712 implies that planetary formation has occurred in the past evolutionary history of this system. If planetary formation is common around millisecond pulsars and if it occurs by coalescence of small dust particles within a protoplanetary disk, as is thought to have occurred during the formation of the solar system, then it may be possible to detect the presence of protoplanetary dust or a remnant debris disk via thermal infrared emission, We summarize an attempt to detect this emission via a series of 10 um observations made toward PSR B 125712 and four other nearby millisecond pulsars using the National Aeronautics and Space Administration NASA Infrared Telescope Facility IRTF 3 m telescope and the facility bolometer. We also present a simple model for thermal emission from a protoplanetary disk containing grains heated from the pulsar spin-down luminosity. Further, we describe upcoming space-based far-infrared observations that can substantially improve observational limits from the emission of dust that may radiate in the two order of magnitude gap between ground-based accessible mid-infrared and millimeter spectral regions.
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