Abstract We investigate the statistical effects of non-discrete timing irregularities on observed radio pulsar braking indices using correlations between the second derivative of the measured anomalous frequency (ϋobs) and some parameters that have been widely used to quantify pulsar timing fluctuations (the timing activity parameter (A), the amount of timing fluctuations absorbed by the cubic term (σR23) and a measure of pulsar rotational stability (σz)) in a large sample of 366 Jodrell Bank Observatory radio pulsars. The result demonstrates that anomalous braking indices are largely artifacts produced by aggregations of fluctuations that occur within or outside the pulsar system. For a subsample of 223 normal radio pulsars whose observed timing activity appeared consistent with instabilities in rotation of the underlying neutron stars (or timing noise) over timescales of ~10 − 40 yr, |ϋobs| strongly correlates (with correlation coefficient |r| ~ 0.80 − 0.90) with the pulsar timing activity parameters and spin-down properties. On the other hand, no meaningful correlations (r < 0.3) were found between ϋobs and the timing activity diagnostics and spin-down parameters in the remaining 143 objects, whose timing activity appears significantly dominated by white noise fluctuations. The current result can be better understood if the timing noise in isolated pulsars originates from intrinsic spin-down processes of the underlying neutron stars, but white noise fluctuations largely arise from processes external to the pulsar system.
Keywords methods: statistical — stars: neutron — pulsars: general
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