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Title: The NANOGrav 15 yr Data Set: Search for Transverse Polarization Modes in the Gravitational-wave Background
Abstract

Recently we found compelling evidence for a gravitational-wave background with Hellings and Downs (HD) correlations in our 15 yr data set. These correlations describe gravitational waves as predicted by general relativity, which has two transverse polarization modes. However, more general metric theories of gravity can have additional polarization modes, which produce different interpulsar correlations. In this work, we search the NANOGrav 15 yr data set for evidence of a gravitational-wave background with quadrupolar HD and scalar-transverse (ST) correlations. We find that HD correlations are the best fit to the data and no significant evidence in favor of ST correlations. While Bayes factors show strong evidence for a correlated signal, the data does not strongly prefer either correlation signature, with Bayes factors ∼2 when comparing HD to ST correlations, and ∼1 for HD plus ST correlations to HD correlations alone. However, when modeled alongside HD correlations, the amplitude and spectral index posteriors for ST correlations are uninformative, with the HD process accounting for the vast majority of the total signal. Using the optimal statistic, a frequentist technique that focuses on the pulsar-pair cross-correlations, we find median signal-to-noise ratios of 5.0 for HD and 4.6 for ST correlations when fit for separately, and median signal-to-noise ratios of 3.5 for HD and 3.0 for ST correlations when fit for simultaneously. While the signal-to-noise ratios for each of the correlations are comparable, the estimated amplitude and spectral index for HD are a significantly better fit to the total signal, in agreement with our Bayesian analysis.

 
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Award ID(s):
2020265
NSF-PAR ID:
10501146
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; more » ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; « less
Corporate Creator(s):
Publisher / Repository:
Astrophysical Journal
Date Published:
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal Letters
Volume:
964
Issue:
1
ISSN:
2041-8205
Page Range / eLocation ID:
L14
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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