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  1. Abstract

    We simulate scattering delays from the interstellar medium to examine the effectiveness of three estimators in recovering these delays in pulsar timing data. Two of these estimators use the more traditional process of fitting autocorrelation functions to pulsar dynamic spectra to extract scintillation bandwidths, while the third estimator uses the newer technique of cyclic spectroscopy on baseband pulsar data to recover the interstellar medium’s impulse response function. We find that either fitting a Lorentzian or Gaussian distribution to an autocorrelation function or recovering the impulse response function from the cyclic spectrum are, on average, accurate in recovering scattering delays, although autocorrelation function estimators have a large variance, even at high signal-to-noise ratio (S/N). We find that, given sufficient S/N, cyclic spectroscopy is more accurate than both Gaussian and Lorentzian fitting for recovering scattering delays at specific epochs, suggesting that cyclic spectroscopy is a superior method for scattering estimation in high-quality data.

  2. Abstract Stellar bow shocks are observed in a variety of interstellar environments and shaped by the conditions of gas in the interstellar medium (ISM). In situ measurements of turbulent density fluctuations near stellar bow shocks are only achievable with a few observational probes, including H α -emitting bow shocks and the Voyager Interstellar Mission (VIM). In this paper, we examine density variations around the Guitar Nebula, an H α bow shock associated with PSR B2224+65, in tandem with density variations probed by VIM near the boundary of the solar wind and ISM. High-resolution Hubble Space Telescope observations of the Guitar Nebula taken between 1994 and 2006 trace density variations over scales from hundreds to thousands of au, while VIM density measurements made with the Voyager 1 Plasma Wave System constrain variations from thousands of meters to tens of au. The power spectrum of density fluctuations constrains the amplitude of the turbulence wavenumber spectrum near the Guitar Nebula to log 10 C n 2 = − 0.8 ± 0.2 m −20/3 and for the very local ISM probed by Voyager to log 10 C n 2 = − 1.57 ± 0.02 m −20/3 . Spectral amplitudes obtained from multiepoch observations ofmore »four other H α bow shocks also show significant enhancements from values that are considered typical for the diffuse, warm ionized medium, suggesting that density fluctuations near these bow shocks may be amplified by shock interactions with the surrounding medium or selection effects that favor H α emission from bow shocks embedded in denser media.« less
  3. Abstract Radio pulsar signals are significantly perturbed by their propagation through the ionized interstellar medium. In addition to the frequency-dependent pulse times of arrival due to dispersion, pulse shapes are also distorted and shifted, having been scattered by the inhomogeneous interstellar plasma, affecting pulse arrival times. Understanding the degree to which scattering affects pulsar timing is important for gravitational-wave detection with pulsar timing arrays (PTAs), which depend on the reliability of pulsars as stable clocks with an uncertainty of ∼100 ns or less over ∼10 yr or more. Scattering can be described as a convolution of the intrinsic pulse shape with an impulse response function representing the effects of multipath propagation. In previous studies, the technique of cyclic spectroscopy has been applied to pulsar signals to deconvolve the effects of scattering from the original emitted signals, increasing the overall timing precision. We present an analysis of simulated data to test the quality of deconvolution using cyclic spectroscopy over a range of parameters characterizing interstellar scattering and pulsar signal-to-noise ratio (S/N). We show that cyclic spectroscopy is most effective for high S/N and/or highly scattered pulsars. We conclude that cyclic spectroscopy could play an important role in scattering correction to distantmore »populations of highly scattered pulsars not currently included in PTAs. For future telescopes and for current instruments such as the Green Bank Telescope upgraded with the ultrawide bandwidth receiver, cyclic spectroscopy could potentially double the number of PTA-quality pulsars.« less
  4. Abstract Using Bayesian analyses we study the solar electron density with the NANOGrav 11 yr pulsar timing array (PTA) data set. Our model of the solar wind is incorporated into a global fit starting from pulse times of arrival. We introduce new tools developed for this global fit, including analytic expressions for solar electron column densities and open source models for the solar wind that port into existing PTA software. We perform an ab initio recovery of various solar wind model parameters. We then demonstrate the richness of information about the solar electron density, n E , that can be gleaned from PTA data, including higher order corrections to the simple 1/ r 2 model associated with a free-streaming wind (which are informative probes of coronal acceleration physics), quarterly binned measurements of n E and a continuous time-varying model for n E spanning approximately one solar cycle period. Finally, we discuss the importance of our model for chromatic noise mitigation in gravitational-wave analyses of pulsar timing data and the potential of developing synergies between sophisticated PTA solar electron density models and those developed by the solar physics community.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023
  5. Abstract We search NANOGrav’s 12.5 yr data set for evidence of a gravitational-wave background (GWB) with all the spatial correlations allowed by general metric theories of gravity. We find no substantial evidence in favor of the existence of such correlations in our data. We find that scalar-transverse (ST) correlations yield signal-to-noise ratios and Bayes factors that are higher than quadrupolar (tensor-transverse, TT) correlations. Specifically, we find ST correlations with a signal-to-noise ratio of 2.8 that are preferred over TT correlations (Hellings and Downs correlations) with Bayesian odds of about 20:1. However, the significance of ST correlations is reduced dramatically when we include modeling of the solar system ephemeris systematics and/or remove pulsar J0030+0451 entirely from consideration. Even taking the nominal signal-to-noise ratios at face value, analyses of simulated data sets show that such values are not extremely unlikely to be observed in cases where only the usual TT modes are present in the GWB. In the absence of a detection of any polarization mode of gravity, we place upper limits on their amplitudes for a spectral index of γ = 5 and a reference frequency of f yr = 1 yr −1 . Among the upper limits for eight generalmore »families of metric theories of gravity, we find the values of A TT 95 % = ( 9.7 ± 0.4 ) × 10 − 16 and A ST 95 % = ( 1.4 ± 0.03 ) × 10 − 15 for the family of metric spacetime theories that contain both TT and ST modes.« less