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  1. Abstract

    The merger of two galaxies, each hosting a supermassive black hole (SMBH) of mass 106Mor more, could yield a bound SMBH binary. For the early-type galaxy NGC 4472, we study how astrometry with a next-generation Very Large Array could be used to monitor the reflex motion of the primary SMBH of massMpri, as it is tugged on by the secondary SMBH of massMsec. Casting the orbit of the putative SMBH binary in terms of its periodP, semimajor axisabin, and mass ratioq=Msec/Mpri1, we find the following: (1) Orbits with fiducial periods ofP= 4 yr and 40 yr could be spatially resolved and monitored. (2) For a 95% accuracy of 2μas per monitoring epoch, subparsec values ofabincould be accessed over a range of mass ratios notionally encompassing majorq>14and minorq<14galaxy mergers. (3) If no reflex motion is detected forMpriafter 1 (10) yr of monitoring, an SMBH binary with periodP= 4 (40) yr and mass ratioq> 0.01 (0.003) could be excluded. This would suggest no present-day evidence for a past major merger like that recently simulated, where scouring by aq∼ 1 SMBH binary formed a stellar core with kinematic traits like those of NGC 4472. (4) Astrometric monitoring could independently check the upper limits onqfrom searches for continuous gravitational waves from NGC 4472.

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    With unparalleled rotational stability, millisecond pulsars (MSPs) serve as ideal laboratories for numerous astrophysical studies, many of which require precise knowledge of the distance and/or velocity of the MSP. Here, we present the astrometric results for 18 MSPs of the ‘MSPSR$\pi$’ project focusing exclusively on astrometry of MSPs, which includes the re-analysis of three previously published sources. On top of a standardized data reduction protocol, more complex strategies (i.e. normal and inverse-referenced 1D interpolation) were employed where possible to further improve astrometric precision. We derived astrometric parameters using sterne, a new Bayesian astrometry inference package that allows the incorporation of prior information based on pulsar timing where applicable. We measured significant (${>}3\, \sigma$) parallax-based distances for 15 MSPs, including 0.81 ± 0.02 kpc for PSR J1518+4904 – the most significant model-independent distance ever measured for a double neutron star system. For each MSP with a well-constrained distance, we estimated its transverse space velocity and radial acceleration. Among the estimated radial accelerations, the updated ones of PSR J1012+5307 and PSR J1738+0333 impose new constraints on dipole gravitational radiation and the time derivative of Newton’s gravitational constant. Additionally, significant angular broadening was detected for PSR J1643−1224, which offers an independent check of the postulated association between the HII region Sh 2-27 and the main scattering screen of PSR J1643−1224. Finally, the upper limit of the death line of γ-ray-emitting pulsars is refined with the new radial acceleration of the hitherto least energetic γ-ray pulsar PSR J1730−2304.

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  3. Abstract We present new radio and optical data, including very-long-baseline interferometry, as well as archival data analysis, for the luminous, decades-long radio transient FIRST J141918.9+394036. The radio data reveal a synchrotron self-absorption peak around 0.3 GHz and a radius of around 1.3 mas (0.5 pc) 26 yr post-discovery, indicating a blastwave energy ∼5 × 10 50 erg. The optical spectrum shows a broad [O iii ] λ 4959,5007 emission line that may indicate collisional excitation in the host galaxy, but its association with the transient cannot be ruled out. The properties of the host galaxy are suggestive of a massive stellar progenitor that formed at low metallicity. Based on the radio light curve, blastwave velocity, energetics, nature of the host galaxy and transient rates, we find that the properties of J1419+3940 are most consistent with long gamma-ray burst (LGRB) afterglows. Other classes of (optically discovered) stellar explosions as well as neutron star mergers are disfavored, and invoking any exotic scenario may not be necessary. It is therefore likely that J1419+3940 is an off-axis LGRB afterglow (as suggested by Law et al. and Marcote et al.), and under this premise the inverse beaming fraction is found to be f b − 1 ≃ 280 − 200 + 700 , corresponding to an average jet half-opening angle < θ j > ≃ 5 − 2 + 4 degrees (68% confidence), consistent with previous estimates. From the volumetric rate we predict that surveys with the Very Large Array, Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder, and MeerKAT will find a handful of J1419+3940-like events over the coming years. 
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    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.

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