Microarcsecond VLBI Pulsar Astrometry with PSRπ II. Parallax Distances for 57...

Deller, A. T., W. M. Goss, W. F. Brisken, S. Chatterjee, J. M. Cordes, G. H. Janssen, Y. Y. Kovalev, T. J. W. Lazio, L. Petrov, B. W. Stappers, and A. Lyne (2019), Microarcsecond VLBI Pulsar Astrometry with PSRπ II. Parallax Distances for 57 Pulsars, The Astrophyiscal Journal, 875, 100, doi:10.3847/1538-4357/ab11c7.

We present the results of PSRπ, a large astrometric project targeting radio pulsars using the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA). From our astrometric database of 60 pulsars, we have obtained parallax-based distance measurements for all but 3, with a parallax precision that is typically ∼45 μas and approaches 10 μas in the best cases. Our full sample doubles the number of radio pulsars with a reliable ( 5σ) model-independent distance constraint. Importantly, many of the newly measured pulsars are well outside the solar neighborhood, and so PSRπ brings a near-tenfold increase in the number of pulsars with a reliable model-independent distance at d > 2 kpc. Our results show that both widely used Galactic electron density distribution models contain significant shortcomings, particularly at high Galactic latitudes. When comparing our results to pulsar timing, two of the four millisecond pulsars in our sample exhibit significant discrepancies in their proper motion estimates. With additional VLBI observations that extend our sample and improve the absolute positional accuracy of our reference sources, we will be able to additionally compare pulsar absolute reference positions between VLBI and timing, which will provide a much more sensitive test of the correctness of the solar system ephemerides used for pulsar timing. Finally, we use our large sample to estimate the typical accuracy attainable for differential VLBA astrometry of pulsars, showing that for sufficiently bright targets observed eight times over 18 months, a parallax uncertainty of 4 μas per arcminute of separation between the pulsar and calibrator can be expected.

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Earth Surface & Interior Program (ESI)