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  1. Context. The PSR J2222−0137 binary system has a set of features that make it a unique laboratory for tests of gravity theories. Aims. To fully exploit the system’s potential for these tests, we aim to improve the measurements of its physical parameters, spin and orbital orientation, and post-Keplerian parameters, which quantify the observed relativistic effects. Methods. We describe an improved analysis of archival very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) data, which uses a coordinate convention in full agreement with that used in timing. We have also obtained much improved polarimetry of the pulsar with the Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescopemore »(FAST). We provide an improved analysis of significantly extended timing datasets taken with the Effelsberg, Nançay, and Lovell radio telescopes; this also includes previous timing data from the Green Bank Telescope. Results. From the VLBI analysis, we have obtained a new estimate of the position angle of the ascending node, Ω = 189 −18 +19 deg (all uncertainties are 68% confidence limits), and a new reference position for the pulsar with an improved and more conservative uncertainty estimate. The FAST polarimetric results, and in particular the detection of an interpulse, yield much improved estimates for the spin geometry of the pulsar, in particular an inclination of the spin axis of the pulsar of ∼84 deg. From the timing, we obtain a new ∼1% test of general relativity (GR) from the agreement of the Shapiro delay parameters and the rate of advance of periastron. Assuming GR in a self-consistent analysis of all effects, we obtain much improved masses: 1.831(10)  M ⊙ for the pulsar and 1.319(4)  M ⊙ for the white dwarf companion; the total mass, 3.150(14)  M ⊙ , confirms this as the most massive double degenerate binary known in the Galaxy. This analysis also yields the orbital orientation; in particular, the orbital inclination is 85.27(4) deg – indicating a close alignment between the spin of the pulsar and the orbital angular momentum – and Ω = 187.7(5.7) deg, which matches our new VLBI estimate. Finally, the timing also yields a precise measurement of the variation in the orbital period, Ṗ b = 0.251(8) × 10 −12 ss −1 ; this is consistent with the expected variation in the Doppler factor plus the orbital decay caused by the emission of gravitational waves predicted by GR. This agreement introduces stringent constraints on the emission of dipolar gravitational waves.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2022
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  3. ABSTRACT The Fermi Large Area Telescope gamma-ray source 3FGL J2039.6–5618 contains a periodic optical and X-ray source that was predicted to be a ‘redback’ millisecond pulsar (MSP) binary system. However, the conclusive identification required the detection of pulsations from the putative MSP. To better constrain the orbital parameters for a directed search for gamma-ray pulsations, we obtained new optical light curves in 2017 and 2018, which revealed long-term variability from the companion star. The resulting orbital parameter constraints were used to perform a targeted gamma-ray pulsation search using the Einstein@Home-distributed volunteer computing system. This search discovered pulsations with a periodmore »of 2.65 ms, confirming the source as a binary MSP now known as PSR J2039–5617. Optical light-curve modelling is complicated, and likely biased, by asymmetric heating on the companion star and long-term variability, but we find an inclination i ≳ 60°, for a low pulsar mass between $1.1\, \mathrm{M}_{\odot } \lt M_{\rm psr} \lt $ 1.6 M⊙, and a companion mass of 0.15–$0.22\, \mathrm{M}_{\odot }$, confirming the redback classification. Timing the gamma-ray pulsations also revealed significant variability in the orbital period, which we find to be consistent with quadrupole moment variations in the companion star, suggestive of convective activity. We also find that the pulsed flux is modulated at the orbital period, potentially due to inverse Compton scattering between high-energy leptons in the pulsar wind and the companion star’s optical photon field.« less
  4. ABSTRACT We searched for an isotropic stochastic gravitational wave background in the second data release of the International Pulsar Timing Array, a global collaboration synthesizing decadal-length pulsar-timing campaigns in North America, Europe, and Australia. In our reference search for a power-law strain spectrum of the form $h_c = A(f/1\, \mathrm{yr}^{-1})^{\alpha }$, we found strong evidence for a spectrally similar low-frequency stochastic process of amplitude $A = 3.8^{+6.3}_{-2.5}\times 10^{-15}$ and spectral index α = −0.5 ± 0.5, where the uncertainties represent 95 per cent credible regions, using information from the auto- and cross-correlation terms between the pulsars in the array. For a spectral index of α =more »−2/3, as expected from a population of inspiralling supermassive black hole binaries, the recovered amplitude is $A = 2.8^{+1.2}_{-0.8}\times 10^{-15}$. None the less, no significant evidence of the Hellings–Downs correlations that would indicate a gravitational-wave origin was found. We also analysed the constituent data from the individual pulsar timing arrays in a consistent way, and clearly demonstrate that the combined international data set is more sensitive. Furthermore, we demonstrate that this combined data set produces comparable constraints to recent single-array data sets which have more data than the constituent parts of the combination. Future international data releases will deliver increased sensitivity to gravitational wave radiation, and significantly increase the detection probability.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 19, 2023
  5. Abstract Isolated neutron stars that are asymmetric with respect to their spin axis are possible sources of detectable continuous gravitational waves. This paper presents a fully coherent search for such signals from eighteen pulsars in data from LIGO and Virgo’s third observing run (O3). For known pulsars, efficient and sensitive matched-filter searches can be carried out if one assumes the gravitational radiation is phase-locked to the electromagnetic emission. In the search presented here, we relax this assumption and allow both the frequency and the time derivative of the frequency of the gravitational waves to vary in a small range aroundmore »those inferred from electromagnetic observations. We find no evidence for continuous gravitational waves, and set upper limits on the strain amplitude for each target. These limits are more constraining for seven of the targets than the spin-down limit defined by ascribing all rotational energy loss to gravitational radiation. In an additional search, we look in O3 data for long-duration (hours–months) transient gravitational waves in the aftermath of pulsar glitches for six targets with a total of nine glitches. We report two marginal outliers from this search, but find no clear evidence for such emission either. The resulting duration-dependent strain upper limits do not surpass indirect energy constraints for any of these targets.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2023
  6. Abstract We present a targeted search for continuous gravitational waves (GWs) from 236 pulsars using data from the third observing run of LIGO and Virgo (O3) combined with data from the second observing run (O2). Searches were for emission from the l = m = 2 mass quadrupole mode with a frequency at only twice the pulsar rotation frequency (single harmonic) and the l = 2, m = 1, 2 modes with a frequency of both once and twice the rotation frequency (dual harmonic). No evidence of GWs was found, so we present 95% credible upper limits on the strainmore »amplitudes h 0 for the single-harmonic search along with limits on the pulsars’ mass quadrupole moments Q 22 and ellipticities ε . Of the pulsars studied, 23 have strain amplitudes that are lower than the limits calculated from their electromagnetically measured spin-down rates. These pulsars include the millisecond pulsars J0437−4715 and J0711−6830, which have spin-down ratios of 0.87 and 0.57, respectively. For nine pulsars, their spin-down limits have been surpassed for the first time. For the Crab and Vela pulsars, our limits are factors of ∼100 and ∼20 more constraining than their spin-down limits, respectively. For the dual-harmonic searches, new limits are placed on the strain amplitudes C 21 and C 22 . For 23 pulsars, we also present limits on the emission amplitude assuming dipole radiation as predicted by Brans-Dicke theory.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 25, 2023