An unusual pairing of objects called a “low mass X-ray binary” has been spotted by astronomers in which a pulsar shifts between emitting fast radio pulses and X-rays. Dubbed the “Transformer Pulsar” in some quarters and the “missing link” pulsar in others, the 18,000-light-year-distant binary in the M28 cluster works like this: …
Or the small companion star is on an eccentric orbit, well off from the rotational plane of the pulsar, hence matter won't make it past the polar jets to form an accretion disc until it approaches the equatorial plane of the pulsar, then accretion can form, then the companion moves beyond that region again.
Of course, that would be easily enough found over time by modest changes in the polar jets movement, as well as rotational changes by a modest, but measurable amount.
Would such a hypothesis work when considering the milliseconds order of magnitude the article describes?
The millisecond time-scale is the pulsar's rotation period (i.e. damn fast for something so massive!) while the abstract says "Within a few days after a month-long X-ray outburst, radio pulses were again detected" which implies that the matter accretion process is much longer and thus believable.
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