First detection of frequency-dependent, time-variable dispersion measures

Abstract : Context. High-precision pulsar-timing experiments are affected by temporal variations of the Dispersion Measure (DM), which are related to spatial variations in the interstellar electron content. Correcting for DM variations relies on the cold-plasma dispersion law which states that the dispersive delay varies with the squared inverse of the observing frequency. This may however give incorrect measurements if the probed electron content (and therefore the DM) varies with observing frequency, as is predicted theoretically. Aims. We study small-scale density variations in the ionised interstellar medium. These structures may lead to frequency-dependent DMs in pulsar signals and could inhibit the use of lower-frequency pulsar observations to correct time-variable interstellar dispersion in higher-frequency pulsar-timing data. Methods. We used high-cadence, low-frequency observations with three stations from the German LOng-Wavelength (GLOW) consortium, which are part of the LOw Frequency ARray (LOFAR). Specifically, 3.5 years of weekly observations of PSR J2219+4754 are presented. Results. We present the first detection of frequency-dependent DMs towards any interstellar object and a precise multi-year time-series of the time- and frequency-dependence of the measured DMs. The observed DM variability is significant and may be caused by extreme scattering events. Potential causes for frequency-dependent DMs are quantified and evaluated. Conclusions. We conclude that frequency-dependence of DMs has been reliably detected and is caused by small-scale (up to 10s of AUs) but steep density variations in the interstellar electron content. We find that long-term trends in DM variability equally affect DMs measured at both ends of our frequency band and hence the negative impact on long-term high-precision timing projects is expected to be limited.
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Contributeur : Inspire Hep <>
Soumis le : mercredi 27 février 2019 - 18:58:31
Dernière modification le : mercredi 20 mars 2019 - 07:16:50

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J.Y. Donner, J.P.W. Verbiest, C. Tiburzi, S. Osłowski, D. Michilli, et al.. First detection of frequency-dependent, time-variable dispersion measures. 2019. 〈hal-02051545〉



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