The highest velocity neutron stars establish stringent constraints on natal kicks, asymmetries in supernova core collapse, and the evolution of close binary systems. Here we present the first results of a long-term pulsar astrometry program using the VLBA. We measure a proper motion and parallax for the pulsar B1508+55, leading to model-independent estimates of its distance (2.37-0.20+0.20 kpc) and transverse velocity (1083 -90+103 km s-1), the highest velocity directly measured for a neutron star. We trace the pulsar back from its present Galactic latitude of 52°.3 to a birth site in the Galactic plane near the Cyg OB associations, and find that it will inevitably escape the Galaxy. Binary disruption alone is insufficient to impart the required birth velocity, and a natal kick is indicated. A composite scenario including a large kick along with binary disruption can plausibly account for the high velocity.
- Stars: kinematics
- Stars: neutron