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Further experimental tests of relativistic gravity using the binary pulsar PSR 1913 + 16
Taylor, J. H.; Weisberg, J. M.
AA(Princeton University, NJ), AB(Carleton College, Northfield, MN)
Astrophysical Journal, Part 1 (ISSN 0004-637X), vol. 345, Oct. 1, 1989, p. 434-450. Research supported by NSF. (ApJ Homepage)
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NASA/STI Keywords:
Binary Stars, Computational Astrophysics, Gravitation Theory, Pulsars, Relativistic Effects, Data Acquisition, Kepler Laws, Radiation Effects, Stellar Mass, Stellar Orbits
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Fourteen-year observations of the binary pulsar PSR 1913 + 16 provided data consistent with a straightforward model allowing for the motion of the earth, special and general relativistic effects within the solar system, dispersive propagation in the interstellar medium, relativistic motion of the pulsar in its orbit, and deterministic spin-down behavior of the pulsar itself. The results indicate that at the present level of precision, the PSR 1913 + 16 can be modeled dynamically as a pair of orbiting point masses. Five Keplerian and five post-Keplerian orbital parameters are therefore mostly determined with remarkably high precision. The masses of the pulsar and its companion are determined to be m1 = 1.442 + or - 0.003 and m2 = 1.386 + or - 0.003 times the mass of the sun, respectively, and the orbit is found to be decaying at a rate equal to 1.01 + or - 0.01 times the general relativistic prediction for gravitational damping. The results represent the first experimental tests of gravitation theory not restricted to the weak-field, slow-motion limit in which nonlinearities and radiation effects are negligible. Excellent agreement between observation and theory indicates conclusively that gravitational radiation exists, at the level predicted by general relativity.

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