Searching for Continuous Gravitational Waves with Pulsar Timing Arrays: Detection and Characterization

Justin Ellis


Gravitational Waves (GWs) are tiny ripples in the fabric of space-time predicted by Einsteins theory of General Relativity. Pulsar timing arrays (PTAs) offer a unique opportunity to detect low frequency GWs in the near future. Such a detection would be complementary to both LISA and LIGO GW efforts. In this frequency band, the expected source of GWs are Supermassive Black Hole Binaries (SMBHBs) and they will most likely form in an ensemble creating a stochastic GW background with the possibility of a few nearby/massive sources that will be individually resolvable. A direct detection of GWs will open a new window into the fields of astronomy and astrophysics by allowing us to constrain the coalescence rate of SMBHBs, providing further tests on the theory of General Relativity, and giving us access to properties of black holes not accessible by current astronomical techniques. Here we will discuss the development of a robust detection pipeline for single resolvable GW sources that is fully tailored to the unique aspects of PTA data analysis. 

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