Limits on the stochastic gravitational wave background from the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves

P. B. Demorest, R. D. Ferdman, M. E. Gonzalez, D. Nice, S. Ransom, I. H. Stairs, Z. Arzoumanian, A. Brazier, S. Burke-Spolaor, S. J. Chamberlin, J. M. Cordes, J. Ellis, L. S. Finn, P. Freire, S. Giampanis, F. Jenet, V. M. Kaspi, J. Lazio, A. N. Lommen, M. McLaughlinN. Palliyaguru, D. Perrodin, R. M. Shannon, X. Siemens, D. Stinebring, J. Swiggum, W. W. Zhu

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201 Scopus citations

Abstract

We present an analysis of high-precision pulsar timing data taken as part of the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav) project. We have observed 17 pulsars for a span of roughly five years using the Green Bank and Arecibo radio telescopes. We analyze these data using standard pulsar timing models, with the addition of time-variable dispersion measure and frequency-variable pulse shape terms. Sub-microsecond timing residuals are obtained in nearly all cases, and the best rms timing residuals in this set are &thk30-50 ns. We present methods for analyzing post-fit timing residuals for the presence of a gravitational wave signal with a specified spectral shape. These optimally take into account the timing fluctuation power removed by the model fit, and can be applied to either data from a single pulsar, or to a set of pulsars to detect a correlated signal. We apply these methods to our data set to set an upper limit on the strength of the nHz-frequency stochastic supermassive black hole gravitational wave background of hc (1 yr-1) < 7 × 10-15 (95%). This result is dominated by the timing of the two best pulsars in the set, PSRs J1713+0747 and J1909-3744.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number94
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume762
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 10 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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