Kiley Heflin

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Physics and Astronomy

Committee Chair

Richard Lieu

Committee Member

James A. Miller

Committee Member

Massimiliano Bonamente

Committee Member

Peter Woods

Committee Member

Georgia Richardson


Dark matter (Astronomy), Pulsars.


In the currently accepted paradigm, dark matter is hypothesized as an explanation for the flat rotation curves of galaxies under the assumption of virialized orbits. The use of millisecond pulsar (MSP) timing as a probe of Galactic dark matter content is explored as a means of challenging this assumption. A method of inference of the Galactic potential using frequency derivative $\dot{\nu}$ is produced, and an upper limit for a virialized Galactic rotation curve is given through direct observation of acceleration. The data set used includes 210 pulsars with known $\dot{\nu}$ and astrometric properties, a subset of which also have measured $\ddot{\nu}$. In principle, this enables the exploration of kinematic effects, but in practice, $\ddot{\nu}$ values are found to be too imprecise at present to adequately constrain radial velocities of pulsars. Additionally, surface magnetic field strengths are inferred from $\dot{\nu}$ and the magnetic spin-down contribution to $\ddot{\nu}$ is calculated. For several pulsars, the radial velocity is known, and the kinematic contribution to $\ddot{\nu}$ is calculated accordingly. The binary orbital periods of PSR J1713+0747 and other binary pulsars are also used in the constraint of Galactic mass density models.



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