UWM Physicist collaborates on recently discovered “complex gravitational system”

David Kaplan, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Assistant Professor of Physics, is part of an international astronomical team studying a recently discovered triple stellar system. The system consists of a superdense neutron star which is emitting millisecond pulses of radiation (a pulsar), a white dwarf orbiting the pulsar, and a second cooler white dwarf orbiting the pulsar-white dwarf pair. The entire triple system could fit within the Earth’s orbit with the Sun. This unique system provides physicists with a tremendous opportunity to study the effects and nature of gravity and test Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity under extreme conditions.

Dr. Kaplan and his colleagues used the Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in West Virginia to determine a more precise location for the grouping and identify the white dwarf components. The team, led by Dr. Scott Ransom of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), has outlined the discovery in a Jan. 5 paper published online in the journal Nature. Further details and an animation describing the motion of the system are presented in the title link.