Vol 16, No 3

Imprints of relic gravitational waves on pulsar timing

Ming-Lei Tong, Yong-Heng Ding, Cheng-Shi Zhao, Feng Gao, Bao-Rong Yan, Ting-Gao Yang, Yu-Ping Gao


Abstract Relic gravitational waves (RGWs), a background originating during inflation, would leave imprints on pulsar timing residuals. This makes RGWs an important source for detection of RGWs using the method of pulsar timing. In this paper, we discuss the effects of RGWs on single pulsar timing, and quantitatively analyze the timing residuals caused by RGWs with different model parameters. In principle, if the RGWs are strong enough today, they can be detected by timing a single millisecond pulsar with high precision after the intrinsic red noises in pulsar timing residuals are understood, even though simultaneously observing multiple millisecond pulsars is a more powerful technique for extracting gravitational wave signals. We correct the normalization of RGWs using observations of the cosmic microwave background (CMB), which leads to the amplitudes of RGWs being reduced by two orders of magnitude or so compared to our previous works. We obtained new constraints on RGWs using recent observations from the Parkes Pulsar Timing Array, employing the tensor-to-scalar ratio r = 0.2 due to the tensor-type polarization observations of CMB by BICEP2 as a reference value, even though its reliability has been brought into question. Moreover, the constraints on RGWs from CMB and Big Bang nucleosynthesis will also be discussed for comparison.


Keywords gravitational waves: general — pulsars: general — inflation

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