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The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has awarded a Veni fellowship to Anne Archibald. The funding allows Anne to conduct independent research and develop her ideas for a period of three years. The Veni is one of three types of grants under the prestigious Innovational Research Incentives Scheme of NWO (the "Vernieuwingsimpuls").

Published by the editorial team, 17 July 2015

Anne received a Veni for her project entitled: "Mapping the Accretion Processes that Form the Universe's Most Rapidly Rotating Stars".

Thanks to the transfer of material from a companion star, some stars, so-called "millisecond pulsars", end up spinning hundreds of times a second. Our understanding of this process is very limited, however. With the help of radio, optical, X-ray and gamma-ray telescopes Anne will search for the answer to the origin of these exotic systems.

Recently, Anne has been instrumental in the discovery and characterization of a class of "transitional" millisecond pulsars, that switch between being rotation-powered radio pulsars and accretion-powered X-ray binaries (see image for an artist's conception of these two states). Such systems hold many important clues for understanding how mass transfer causes some neutron stars to spin at dizzying rates.

Read the full NWO press release here (Dutch).

Artist's depiction of a radio millisecond pulsar and stellar companion. As a visible radio pulsar, the companion's flow of matter does not reach the neutron star. Bottom: sometimes the inflowing matter forms a pancake-like accretion disk around the neutron star. In this state, the radio pulsar is no longer detectable, but other processes, like an outflow of material along the rotational axis, can form.

Image Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Credit: NASA's Goddard SpaceFlight Center


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