skip to main content


Title: Searching for continuous Gravitational Waves in the second data release of the International Pulsar Timing Array
ABSTRACT

The International Pulsar Timing Array 2nd data release is the combination of data sets from worldwide collaborations. In this study, we search for continuous waves: gravitational wave signals produced by individual supermassive black hole binaries in the local universe. We consider binaries on circular orbits and neglect the evolution of orbital frequency over the observational span. We find no evidence for such signals and set sky averaged 95 per cent upper limits on their amplitude h95. The most sensitive frequency is 10 nHz with h95 = 9.1 × 10−15. We achieved the best upper limit to date at low and high frequencies of the PTA band thanks to improved effective cadence of observations. In our analysis, we have taken into account the recently discovered common red noise process, which has an impact at low frequencies. We also find that the peculiar noise features present in some pulsars data must be taken into account to reduce the false alarm. We show that using custom noise models is essential in searching for continuous gravitational wave signals and setting the upper limit.

 
more » « less
Award ID(s):
1847938 2106552 2007993
NSF-PAR ID:
10405595
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; more » ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; « less
Publisher / Repository:
Oxford University Press
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume:
521
Issue:
4
ISSN:
0035-8711
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 5077-5086
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    Pulsar timing array collaborations, such as the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav), are seeking to detect nanohertz gravitational waves emitted by supermassive black hole binaries formed in the aftermath of galaxy mergers. We have searched for continuous waves from individual circular supermassive black hole binaries using NANOGrav’s recent 12.5 yr data set. We created new methods to accurately model the uncertainties on pulsar distances in our analysis, and we implemented new techniques to account for a common red-noise process in pulsar timing array data sets while searching for deterministic gravitational wave signals, including continuous waves. As we found no evidence for continuous waves in our data, we placed 95% upper limits on the strain amplitude of continuous waves emitted by these sources. At our most sensitive frequency of 7.65 nHz, we placed a sky-averaged limit ofh0< (6.82 ± 0.35) × 10−15, andh0< (2.66 ± 0.15) × 10−15in our most sensitive sky location. Finally, we placed a multimessenger limit of<(1.41±0.02)×109Mon the chirp mass of the supermassive black hole binary candidate 3C 66B.

     
    more » « less
  2. Abstract Evidence for a low-frequency stochastic gravitational-wave background has recently been reported based on analyses of pulsar timing array data. The most likely source of such a background is a population of supermassive black hole binaries, the loudest of which may be individually detected in these data sets. Here we present the search for individual supermassive black hole binaries in the NANOGrav 15 yr data set. We introduce several new techniques, which enhance the efficiency and modeling accuracy of the analysis. The search uncovered weak evidence for two candidate signals, one with a gravitational-wave frequency of ∼4 nHz, and another at ∼170 nHz. The significance of the low-frequency candidate was greatly diminished when Hellings–Downs correlations were included in the background model. The high-frequency candidate was discounted due to the lack of a plausible host galaxy, the unlikely astrophysical prior odds of finding such a source, and since most of its support comes from a single pulsar with a commensurate binary period. Finding no compelling evidence for signals from individual binary systems, we place upper limits on the strain amplitude of gravitational waves emitted by such systems. At our most sensitive frequency of 6 nHz, we place a sky-averaged 95% upper limit of 8 × 10 −15 on the strain amplitude. We also calculate an exclusion volume and a corresponding effective radius, within which we can rule out the presence of black hole binaries emitting at a given frequency. 
    more » « less
  3. ABSTRACT

    The launch of space-based gravitational-wave (GW) detectors (e.g. Laser Interferometry Space Antenna; LISA) and current and upcoming Pulsar Timing Arrays will extend the GW window to low frequencies, opening new investigations into dynamical processes involving massive black hole binaries (MBHBs) and their mergers across cosmic time. MBHBs are expected to be among the primary sources for the upcoming low-frequency (10−4–10−1 Hz) window probed by LISA. It is important to investigate the expected supermassive BH merger rates and associated signals, to determine how potential LISA events are affected by physics included in current models. To study this, we post-process the large population of MBHBs in the Illustris simulation to account for dynamical friction time delays associated with BH infall/inspiral. We show that merger delays associated with binary evolution have the potential to decrease the expected merger rates, with $M_{\rm {BH}}\ \gt\ 10^6\ \mathrm{M}_\odot$ MBHBs (the lowest mass in Illustris) decreasing from ∼3 to ∼0.1 yr−1, and shifting the merger peak from z ∼2 to ∼1.25. During this time, we estimate that accretion grows the total merging mass by as much as 7x the original mass. Importantly, however, dynamical friction-associated delays (which shift the mergers toward lower redshift and higher masses) lead to a stronger signal/strain for the emitted GWs in the LISA band, increasing mean frequency from 10−3.1 to 10−3.4–10−4.0 Hz, and mean strain from 10−17.2 to 10−16.3–10−15.3. Finally, we show that after including a merger delay and associated MBH growth, mergers still tend to lie on the typical MBH–M* relation, but with an increased likelihood of an undermassive BH.

     
    more » « less
  4. ABSTRACT

    Low-mass X-ray binaries have long been theorized as potential sources of continuous gravitational-wave radiation, yet there is no observational evidence from recent LIGO/Virgo observing runs. Even for the theoretically ‘loudest’ source, Sco X-1, the upper limit on gravitational-wave strain has been pushed ever lower. Such searches require precise measurements of the source properties for sufficient sensitivity and computational feasibility. Collating over 20 yr of high-quality spectroscopic observations of the system, we present a precise and comprehensive ephemeris for Sco X-1 through radial velocity measurements, performing a full homogeneous re-analysis of all relevant data sets and correcting previous analyses. Our Bayesian approach accounts for observational systematics and maximizes not only precision, but also the fidelity of uncertainty estimates – crucial for informing principled continuous-wave searches. Our extensive data set and analysis also enables us to construct the highest signal-to-noise ratio, highest resolution phase-averaged spectrum of a low-mass X-ray binary to date. Doppler tomography reveals intriguing transient structures present in the accretion disc and flow driven by modulation of the accretion rate, necessitating further characterization of the system at high temporal and spectral resolution. Our ephemeris corrects and supersedes previous ephemerides, and provides a factor three reduction in the number of templates in the search space, facilitating precision searches for continuous gravitational-wave emission from Sco X-1 throughout the upcoming LIGO/Virgo/KAGRA O4 observing run and beyond.

     
    more » « less
  5. Abstract We present results of a search for periodic gravitational wave signals with frequencies between 20 and 400 Hz from the neutron star in the supernova remnant G347.3-0.5 using LIGO O2 public data. The search is deployed on the volunteer computing project Einstein@Home, with thousands of participants donating compute cycles to make this endeavour possible. We find no significant signal candidate and set the most constraining upper limits to date on the amplitude of gravitational wave signals from the target, corresponding to deformations below 10 −6 in a large part of the band. At the frequency of best strain sensitivity, near 166 Hz, we set 90% confidence upper limits on the gravitational wave intrinsic amplitude of h 0 90 % ≈ 7.0 × 10 − 26 . Over most of the frequency range our upper limits are a factor of 20 smaller than the indirect age-based upper limit. 
    more » « less