[1202.0808] Practical Methods for Continuous Gravitational Wave Detection using Pulsar Timing Data

Authors: J. A. Ellis, F. A. Jenet, M. A. McLaughlin

Date: 3 Feb 2012

Abstract: Gravitational Waves (GWs) are tiny ripples in the fabric of space-time predicted by Einstein's General Relativity. Pulsar timing arrays (PTAs) are well poised to detect low frequency ($10ˆ{-9}$ -- $10ˆ{-7}$ Hz) GWs in the near future. There has been a significant amount of research into the detection of a stochastic background of GWs from supermassive black hole binaries (SMBHBs). Recent work has shown that single continuous sources standing out above the background may be detectable by PTAs operating at a sensitivity sufficient to detect the stochastic background. The most likely sources of continuous GWs in the pulsar timing frequency band are extremely massive and/or nearby SMBHBs. In this paper we present detection strategies including various forms of matched filtering and power spectral summing. We determine the efficacy and computational cost of such strategies. It is shown that it is computationally infeasible to use an optimal matched filter including the poorly constrained pulsar distances with a grid based method. We show that an Earth-term-matched filter constructed using only the correlated signal terms is both computationally viable and highly sensitive to GW signals. This technique is only a factor of two less sensitive than the computationally unrealizable optimal matched filter and a factor of two more sensitive than a power spectral summing technique. We further show that a pairwise matched filter, taking the pulsar distances into account is comparable to the optimal matched filter for the single template case and comparable to the Earth-term-matched filter for many search templates. Finally, using simulated data optimal quality, we place a theoretical minimum detectable strain amplitude of $h>2\times 10ˆ{-15}$ from continuous GWs at frequencies on the order $\sim1/T_{\rm obs}$.

abs pdf

Feb 05, 2012

1202.0808 (/preprints)
2012-02-05, 22:35 [edit]

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