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  1. Abstract

    Although neutron star–black hole binaries have been identified through mergers detected in gravitational waves, a pulsar–black hole binary has yet to be detected. While short-period binaries are detectable due to a clear signal in the pulsar’s timing residuals, effects from a long-period binary could be masked by other timing effects, allowing them to go undetected. In particular, a long-period binary measured over a small subset of its orbital period could manifest via time derivatives of the spin frequency incompatible with isolated pulsar properties. We assess the possibility of pulsars having unknown companions in long-period binaries and put constraints on the range of binary properties that may remain undetected in current data, but that may be detectable with further observations. We find that for 35% of canonical pulsars with published higher-order derivatives, the precision of measurements is not enough to confidently reject binarity (period ≳2 kyr), and that a black hole binary companion could not be ruled out for a sample of pulsars without published constraints if the period is >1 kyr. While we find no convincing cases in the literature, we put more stringent limits on orbital period and longitude of periastron for the few pulsars with published higher-order frequency derivatives (n≥ 3). We discuss the detectability of candidates and find that a sample pulsar in a 100 yr orbit could be detectable within 5–10 yr.

     
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  2. Abstract

    We present the detection of 661 known pulsars observed with the Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope at 888 MHz as part of the Rapid ASKAP Continuum Survey (RACS). Detections were made through astrometric coincidence and we estimate the false alarm rate of our sample to be ∼0.5%. Using archival data at 400 and 1400 MHz, we estimate the power-law spectral indices for the pulsars in our sample and find that the mean spectral index is −1.78 ± 0.6. However, we also find that a single power law is inadequate for modeling all the observed spectra. With the addition of flux densities between 150 MHz and 3 GHz from various imaging surveys, we find that up to 40% of our sample show deviations from a simple power-law model. Using StokesVmeasurements from the RACS data, we measured the circular polarization fraction for 9% of our sample and find that the mean polarization fraction is ∼10% (consistent between detections and upper limits). Using the dispersion-measure-derived distance, we estimate the pseudo-luminosity of the pulsars and do not find any strong evidence for a correlation with the pulsars’ intrinsic properties.

     
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  3. Abstract

    The millisecond pulsar J1713+0747 underwent a sudden and significant pulse shape change between 2021 April 16 and 17 (MJDs 59320 and 59321). Subsequently, the pulse shape gradually recovered over the course of several months. We report the results of continued multifrequency radio observations of the pulsar made using the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment and the 100 m Green Bank Telescope in a 3 yr period encompassing the shape change event, between 2020 February and 2023 February. As of 2023 February, the pulse shape had returned to a state similar to that seen before the event, but with measurable changes remaining. The amplitude of the shape change and the accompanying time-of-arrival residuals display a strong nonmonotonic dependence on radio frequency, demonstrating that the event is neither a glitch (the effects of which should be independent of radio frequency,ν) nor a change in dispersion measure alone (which would produce a delay proportional toν−2). However, it does bear some resemblance to the two previous “chromatic timing events” observed in J1713+0747, as well as to a similar event observed in PSR J1643−1224 in 2015.

     
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  4. Abstract

    The radio galaxy 3C 66B has been hypothesized to host a supermassive black hole binary (SMBHB) at its center based on electromagnetic observations. Its apparent 1.05 yr period and low redshift (∼0.02) make it an interesting testbed to search for low-frequency gravitational waves (GWs) using pulsar timing array (PTA) experiments. This source has been subjected to multiple searches for continuous GWs from a circular SMBHB, resulting in progressively more stringent constraints on its GW amplitude and chirp mass. In this paper, we develop a pipeline for performing Bayesian targeted searches for eccentric SMBHBs in PTA data sets, and test its efficacy by applying it to simulated data sets with varying injected signal strengths. We also search for a realistic eccentric SMBHB source in 3C 66B using the NANOGrav 12.5 yr data set employing PTA signal models containing Earth term-only as well as Earth+pulsar term contributions using this pipeline. Due to limitations in our PTA signal model, we get meaningful results only when the initial eccentricitye0< 0.5 and the symmetric mass ratioη> 0.1. We find no evidence for an eccentric SMBHB signal in our data, and therefore place 95% upper limits on the PTA signal amplitude of 88.1 ± 3.7 ns for the Earth term-only and 81.74 ± 0.86 ns for the Earth+pulsar term searches fore0< 0.5 andη> 0.1. Similar 95% upper limits on the chirp mass are (1.98 ± 0.05) × 109and (1.81 ± 0.01) × 109M. These upper limits, while less stringent than those calculated from a circular binary search in the NANOGrav 12.5 yr data set, are consistent with the SMBHB model of 3C 66B developed from electromagnetic observations.

     
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  5. Abstract

    The North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav) has reported evidence for the presence of an isotropic nanohertz gravitational-wave background (GWB) in its 15 yr data set. However, if the GWB is produced by a population of inspiraling supermassive black hole binary (SMBHB) systems, then the background is predicted to be anisotropic, depending on the distribution of these systems in the local Universe and the statistical properties of the SMBHB population. In this work, we search for anisotropy in the GWB using multiple methods and bases to describe the distribution of the GWB power on the sky. We do not find significant evidence of anisotropy. By modeling the angular power distribution as a sum over spherical harmonics (where the coefficients are not bound to always generate positive power everywhere), we find that the Bayesian 95% upper limit on the level of dipole anisotropy is (Cl=1/Cl=0) < 27%. This is similar to the upper limit derived under the constraint of positive power everywhere, indicating that the dipole may be close to the data-informed regime. By contrast, the constraints on anisotropy at higher spherical-harmonic multipoles are strongly prior dominated. We also derive conservative estimates on the anisotropy expected from a random distribution of SMBHB systems using astrophysical simulations conditioned on the isotropic GWB inferred in the 15 yr data set and show that this data set has sufficient sensitivity to probe a large fraction of the predicted level of anisotropy. We end by highlighting the opportunities and challenges in searching for anisotropy in pulsar timing array data.

     
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2024
  6. Abstract

    We present the results of a Bayesian search for gravitational wave (GW) memory in the NANOGrav 12.5 yr data set. We find no convincing evidence for any gravitational wave memory signals in this data set. We find a Bayes factor of 2.8 in favor of a model that includes a memory signal and common spatially uncorrelated red noise (CURN) compared to a model including only a CURN. However, further investigation shows that a disproportionate amount of support for the memory signal comes from three dubious pulsars. Using a more flexible red-noise model in these pulsars reduces the Bayes factor to 1.3. Having found no compelling evidence, we go on to place upper limits on the strain amplitude of GW memory events as a function of sky location and event epoch. These upper limits are computed using a signal model that assumes the existence of a common, spatially uncorrelated red noise in addition to a GW memory signal. The median strain upper limit as a function of sky position is approximately 3.3 × 10−14. We also find that there are some differences in the upper limits as a function of sky position centered around PSR J0613−0200. This suggests that this pulsar has some excess noise that can be confounded with GW memory. Finally, the upper limits as a function of burst epoch continue to improve at later epochs. This improvement is attributable to the continued growth of the pulsar timing array.

     
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  7. 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. 
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  8. 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. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2024
  9. Abstract We present observations and timing analyses of 68 millisecond pulsars (MSPs) comprising the 15 yr data set of the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav). NANOGrav is a pulsar timing array (PTA) experiment that is sensitive to low-frequency gravitational waves (GWs). This is NANOGrav’s fifth public data release, including both “narrowband” and “wideband” time-of-arrival (TOA) measurements and corresponding pulsar timing models. We have added 21 MSPs and extended our timing baselines by 3 yr, now spanning nearly 16 yr for some of our sources. The data were collected using the Arecibo Observatory, the Green Bank Telescope, and the Very Large Array between frequencies of 327 MHz and 3 GHz, with most sources observed approximately monthly. A number of notable methodological and procedural changes were made compared to our previous data sets. These improve the overall quality of the TOA data set and are part of the transition to new pulsar timing and PTA analysis software packages. For the first time, our data products are accompanied by a full suite of software to reproduce data reduction, analysis, and results. Our timing models include a variety of newly detected astrometric and binary pulsar parameters, including several significant improvements to pulsar mass constraints. We find that the time series of 23 pulsars contain detectable levels of red noise, 10 of which are new measurements. In this data set, we find evidence for a stochastic GW background. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 29, 2024