Vol 16, No 4

Detecting the errors in solar system ephemeris by pulsar timing

Liang Li, Li Guo, Guang-Li Wang


Abstract Pulsar timing uses planetary ephemerides to convert the measured pulse arrival time at an observatory to the arrival time at the Solar System barycenter (SSB). Since these planetary ephemerides cannot be perfect, a method of detecting the associated errors based on a pulsar timing array is developed. By using observations made by an array of 18 millisecond pulsars from the Parkes Pulsar Timing Array, we estimated the vector uncertainty from the Earth to the SSB of JPL DE421, which reflects the offset of the ephemeris origin with respect to the ideal SSB, in different piecewise intervals of pulsar timing data, and found consistent results. To investigate the stability and reliability of our method, we divided all the pulsars into two groups. Both groups yield largely consistent results, and the uncertainty of the Earth-SSB vector is several hundred meters, which is consistent with the accuracy of JPL DE421. As an improvement in the observational accuracy, pulsar timing will be helpful to improve the solar system ephemeris in the future.



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