Millisecond Pulsars and Black Holes in Globular Clusters

Claire S. Ye, Kyle Kremer, Sourav Chatterjee, Carl L. Rodriguez, Frederic A. Rasio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Over 100 millisecond radio pulsars (MSPs) have been observed in globular clusters (GCs), motivating theoretical studies of the formation and evolution of these sources through stellar evolution coupled to stellar dynamics. Here we study MSPs in GCs using realistic N-body simulations with our Cluster Monte Carlo code. We show that neutron stars (NSs) formed in electron-capture supernovae (including both accretion-induced and merger-induced collapse of white dwarfs) can be spun up through mass transfer to form MSPs. Both NS formation and spin-up through accretion are greatly enhanced through dynamical interaction processes. We find that our models for average GCs at the present day with masses ≈2 ×105 M o can produce up to 10-20 MSPs, while a very massive GC model with mass ≈106 M o can produce close to 100. We show that the number of MSPs is anti-correlated with the total number of stellar-mass black holes (BHs) retained in the host cluster. The radial distributions are also affected: MSPs are more concentrated toward the center in a host cluster with a smaller number of retained BHs. As a result, the number of MSPs in a GC could be used to place constraints on its BH population. Some intrinsic properties of MSP systems in our models (such as the magnetic fields and spin periods) are in good overall agreement with observations, while others (such as the distribution of binary companion types) are less so, and we discuss the possible reasons for such discrepancies. Interestingly, our models also demonstrate the possibility of dynamically forming NS-NS and NS-BH binaries in GCs, although the predicted numbers are very small.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number122
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019


  • globular clusters: general
  • methods: numerical
  • pulsars: general
  • stars: kinematics and dynamics
  • stars: neutron

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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