Temperature and cooling age of the white dwarf companion of PSR J0218+4232
Astronomical Institute, Utrecht University, PO Box 80000, 3508 TA Utrecht, The Netherlands
2 Palomar Observatory, California Institute of Technology 105-24, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA
Accepted: 6 March 2003
We report on Keck optical BVRI images and spectroscopy of the companion of the binary millisecond pulsar PSR J0218+4232. A faint bluish (, ) counterpart is observed at the pulsar location. Spectra of this counterpart reveal Balmer lines which confirm that the companion is a helium-core white dwarf. We find that the white dwarf has a temperature of K. Unfortunately, the spectra are of insufficient quality to put a strong constraint on the surface gravity, although the best fit is for low and hence low mass (), as expected. We compare predicted white dwarf cooling ages with the characteristic age of the pulsar and find similar values for white dwarf masses of 0.19 to 0.3 . These masses would imply a distance of 2.5 to 4 kpc to the system. The spectroscopic observations also enable us to estimate the mass ratio between the white dwarf and the pulsar. We find , which is consistent with the current knowledge of white dwarf companions to millisecond pulsars.
Key words: pulsars: individual: PSR J0218+4232 / stars: neutron / stars: white dwarfs
© ESO, 2003