Kareem El-Badry*, Joshua D. Simon, Henrique Reggiani, Hans Walter Rix, David W. Latham, Allyson Bieryla, Lars A. Buchhave, Sahar Shahaf, Tsevi Mazeh, Sukanya Chakrabarti, Puragra Guhathakurta, Ilya V. Ilyin, Thomas M. Tauris

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We report discovery and characterization of a main-sequence G star orbiting a dark object with mass 1.90±0.04 M⨀. The system was discovered via Gaia astrometry and has an orbital period of 731 days. We obtained multi-epoch RV follow-up over a period of 639 days, allowing us to refine the Gaia orbital solution and precisely constrain the masses of both components. The luminous star is a≳12 Gyrold, low-metallicity halo star near the main-sequence turnoff (Teff ≈ 6000 K; log g/[cm s−2]) ≈ 4.0; [Fe/H] ≈−1.25; M ≈ 0.79 M⨀) with a highly enhanced lithium abundance. The RV mass function sets a minimum companion mass for an edge-on orbit of M2>1.67 M⨀, well above the Chandrasekhar limit. The Gaia inclination constraint, i=68.7±1.4 deg, then implies a companion mass of M2=1.90±0.04 M⨀. The companion is most likely a massive neutron star: the only viable alternative is two massive white dwarfs in a close binary, but this scenario is disfavored on evolutionary grounds. The system’s low eccentricity (e=0.122±0.002) disfavors dynamical formation channels and implies that the neutron star likely formed with little mass loss (≲1 M⨀) and with a weak natal kick (vkick≲20 km s−1). Stronger kicks with more mass loss are not fully ruled out but would imply that a larger population of similar systems with higher eccentricities should exist. The current orbit is too small to have accommodated the neutron star progenitor as a red supergiant or super-AGB star. The simplest formation scenario–isolated binary evolution–requires the system to have survived unstable mass transfer and common envelope evolution with a donor-to-accretor mass ratio>10. The system, which we call Gaia NS1, is likely a progenitor of symbiotic X-ray binaries and long-period millisecond pulsars. Its discovery challenges binary evolution models and bodes well for Gaia’s census of compact objects in wide binaries.

Original languageEnglish
JournalOpen Journal of Astrophysics
StatePublished - 2024


FundersFunder number
H2020 European Research Council
National Science FoundationAST-2307232
National Science Foundation
Engineering Research Centers101054731
Engineering Research Centers
Gordon and Betty Moore FoundationGBMF5076
Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation


    • binaries: spectroscopic
    • stars: evolution
    • stars: neutron


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