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  1. Abstract

    With strong evidence of a common-spectrum stochastic process in the most recent data sets from the NANOGrav Collaboration, the European Pulsar Timing Array (PTA), Parkes PTA, and the International PTA, it is crucial to assess the effects of the several astrophysical and cosmological sources that could contribute to the stochastic gravitational wave background (GWB). Using the same data set creation and injection techniques as in Pol et al., we assess the separability of multiple GWBs by creating single and multiple GWB source data sets. We search for these injected sources using Bayesian PTA analysis techniques to assess recovery and separability of multiple astrophysical and cosmological backgrounds. For a GWB due to supermassive black hole binaries and an underlying weaker background due to primordial gravitational waves with a GW energy-density ratio of ΩPGWSMBHB= 0.5, the Bayes’ factor for a second process exceeds unity at 17 yr, and increases with additional data. At 20 yr of data, we are able to constrain the spectral index and amplitude of the weaker GWB at this density ratio to a fractional uncertainty of 64% and 110%, respectively, using current PTA methods and techniques. Using these methods and findings, we outline a basic protocol tomore »search for multiple backgrounds in future PTA data sets.

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  2. Abstract We present an analysis of a densely repeating sample of bursts from the first repeating fast radio burst, FRB 121102. We reanalyzed the data used by Gourdji et al. and detected 93 additional bursts using our single-pulse search pipeline. In total, we detected 133 bursts in three hours of data at a center frequency of 1.4 GHz using the Arecibo telescope, and develop robust modeling strategies to constrain the spectro-temporal properties of all of the bursts in the sample. Most of the burst profiles show a scattering tail, and burst spectra are well modeled by a Gaussian with a median width of 230 MHz. We find a lack of emission below 1300 MHz, consistent with previous studies of FRB 121102. We also find that the peak of the log-normal distribution of wait times decreases from 207 to 75 s using our larger sample of bursts, as compared to that of Gourdji et al. Our observations do not favor either Poissonian or Weibull distributions for the burst rate distribution. We searched for periodicity in the bursts using multiple techniques, but did not detect any significant period. The cumulative burst energy distribution exhibits a broken power-law shape, with the lower- andmore »higher-energy slopes of −0.4 ± 0.1 and −1.8 ± 0.2, with the break at (2.3 ± 0.2) × 10 37 erg. We provide our burst fitting routines as a Python package burstfit 4 4 https://github.com/thepetabyteproject/burstfit that can be used to model the spectrogram of any complex fast radio burst or pulsar pulse using robust fitting techniques. All of the other analysis scripts and results are publicly available. 5 5 https://github.com/thepetabyteproject/FRB121102« less
  3. Abstract We report the discovery of a highly circularly polarized, variable, steep-spectrum pulsar in the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) Variables and Slow Transients (VAST) survey. The pulsar is located about 1° from the center of the Large Magellanic Cloud, and has a significant fractional circular polarization of ∼20%. We discovered pulsations with a period of 322.5 ms, dispersion measure (DM) of 157.5 pc cm −3 , and rotation measure (RM) of +456 rad m −2 using observations from the MeerKAT and the Parkes telescopes. This DM firmly places the source, PSR J0523−7125, in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). This RM is extreme compared to other pulsars in the LMC (more than twice that of the largest previously reported one). The average flux density of ∼1 mJy at 1400 MHz and ∼25 mJy at 400 MHz places it among the most luminous radio pulsars known. It likely evaded previous discovery because of its very steep radio spectrum (spectral index α ≈ −3, where S ν ∝ ν α ) and broad pulse profile (duty cycle ≳35%). We discuss implications for searches for unusual radio sources in continuum images, as well as extragalactic pulsars in the Magellanic Clouds and beyond.more »Our result highlighted the possibility of identifying pulsars, especially extreme pulsars, from radio continuum images. Future large-scale radio surveys will give us an unprecedented opportunity to discover more pulsars and potentially the most distant pulsars beyond the Magellanic Clouds.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  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 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
  6. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  7. 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
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022