Optimization of nanograv's time allocation for maximum sensitivity to single sources

Brian Christy, Ryan Anella, Andrea Lommen, Lee Samuel Finn, Richard Camuccio, Emma Handzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Pulsar timing arrays (PTAs) are a collection of precisely timed millisecond pulsars (MSPs) that can search for gravitational waves (GWs) in the nanohertz frequency range by observing characteristic signatures in the timing residuals. The sensitivity of a PTA depends on the direction of the propagating GW source, the timing accuracy of the pulsars, and the allocation of the available observing time. The goal of this paper is to determine the optimal time allocation strategy among the MSPs in the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav) for a single source of GW under a particular set of assumptions. We consider both an isotropic distribution of sources across the sky and a specific source in the Virgo cluster. This work improves on previous efforts by modeling the effect of intrinsic spin noise for each pulsar. We find that, in general, the array is optimized by maximizing time spent on the best-timed pulsars, with sensitivity improvements typically ranging from a factor of 1.5 to 4.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number163
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 20 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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