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Modeling the Uncertainties of Solar System Ephemerides for Robust Gravitational-wave Searches with Pulsar-timing Arrays

Vallisneri, M. and Taylor, S. R. and Simon, J. and Folkner, W. M. and Park, R. S. and Cutler, C. and Ellis, J. A. and Lazio, T. J. W. and Vigeland, S. J. and Aggarwal, K. and Arzoumanian, Z. and Baker, P. T. and Brazier, A. and Brook, P. R. and Burke-Spolaor, S. and Chatterjee, S. and Cordes, J. M. and Cornish, N. J. and Crawford, F. and Cromartie, H. T. and Crowter, K. and DeCesar, M. and Demorest, P. B. and Dolch, T. and Ferdman, R. D. and Ferrara, E. C. and Fonseca, E. and Garver-Daniels, N. and Gentile, P. and Good, D. and Hazboun, J. S. and Holgado, A. M. and Huerta, E. A. and Islo, K. and Jennings, R. and Jones, G. and Jones, M. L. and Kaplan, D. L. and Kelley, L. Z. and Key, J. S. and Lam, M. T. and Levin, L. and Lorimer, D. R. and Luo, J. and Lynch, R. S. and Madison, D. R. and McLaughlin, M. A. and McWilliams, S. T. and Mingarelli, C. M. F. and Ng, C. and Nice, D. J. and Pennucci, T. T. and Pol, N. S. and Ransom, S. M. and Ray, P. S. and Siemens, X. and Spiewak, R. and Stairs, I. H. and Stinebring, D. R. and Stovall, K. and Swiggum, J. K. and van Haasteren, R. and Witt, C. A. and Zhu, W. W. (2020) Modeling the Uncertainties of Solar System Ephemerides for Robust Gravitational-wave Searches with Pulsar-timing Arrays. Astrophysical Journal, 893 (2). Art. No. 112. ISSN 1538-4357.

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The regularity of pulsar emissions becomes apparent once we reference the pulses' times of arrivals to the inertial rest frame of the solar system. It follows that errors in the determination of Earth's position with respect to the solar system barycenter can appear as a time-correlated bias in pulsar-timing residual time series, affecting the searches for low-frequency gravitational waves performed with pulsar-timing arrays. Indeed, recent array data sets yield different gravitational-wave background upper limits and detection statistics when analyzed with different solar system ephemerides. Crucially, the ephemerides do not generally provide usable error representations. In this article, we describe the motivation, construction, and application of a physical model of solar system ephemeris uncertainties, which focuses on the degrees of freedom (Jupiter's orbital elements) most relevant to gravitational-wave searches with pulsar-timing arrays. This model, BayesEphem, was used to derive ephemeris-robust results in NANOGrav's 11 yr stochastic-background search, and it provides a foundation for future searches by NANOGrav and other consortia. The analysis and simulations reported here suggest that ephemeris modeling reduces the gravitational-wave sensitivity of the 11 yr data set and that this degeneracy will vanish with improved ephemerides and with pulsar-timing data sets that extend well beyond a single Jovian orbital period.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Vallisneri, M.0000-0002-4162-0033
Taylor, S. R.0000-0003-0264-1453
Simon, J.0000-0003-1407-6607
Folkner, W. M.0000-0001-5133-9934
Park, R. S.0000-0001-9896-4585
Cutler, C.0000-0002-2080-1468
Ellis, J. A.0000-0003-1715-974X
Lazio, T. J. W.0000-0002-3873-5497
Vigeland, S. J.0000-0003-4700-9072
Aggarwal, K.0000-0002-2059-0525
Baker, P. T.0000-0003-2745-753X
Brazier, A.0000-0001-6341-7178
Brook, P. R.0000-0003-3053-6538
Burke-Spolaor, S.0000-0003-4052-7838
Chatterjee, S.0000-0002-2878-1502
Cordes, J. M.0000-0002-4049-1882
Cornish, N. J.0000-0002-7435-0869
Crawford, F.0000-0002-2578-0360
Cromartie, H. T.0000-0002-6039-692X
Crowter, K.0000-0002-1529-5169
DeCesar, M.0000-0002-2185-1790
Demorest, P. B.0000-0002-6664-965X
Dolch, T.0000-0001-8885-6388
Ferdman, R. D.0000-0002-2223-1235
Ferrara, E. C.0000-0001-7828-7708
Fonseca, E.0000-0001-8384-5049
Garver-Daniels, N.0000-0001-6166-9646
Gentile, P.0000-0001-8158-683X
Good, D.0000-0003-1884-348X
Hazboun, J. S.0000-0003-2742-3321
Holgado, A. M.0000-0003-4143-8132
Huerta, E. A.0000-0002-9682-3604
Islo, K.0000-0001-5123-9917
Jennings, R.0000-0003-1082-2342
Jones, M. L.0000-0001-6607-3710
Kaplan, D. L.0000-0001-6295-2881
Kelley, L. Z.0000-0002-6625-6450
Key, J. S.0000-0003-0123-7600
Lam, M. T.0000-0003-0721-651X
Levin, L.0000-0002-2034-2986
Lorimer, D. R.0000-0003-1301-966X
Luo, J.0000-0001-5373-5914
Lynch, R. S.0000-0001-5229-7430
Madison, D. R.0000-0003-2285-0404
McLaughlin, M. A.0000-0001-7697-7422
McWilliams, S. T.0000-0003-2397-8290
Mingarelli, C. M. F.0000-0002-4307-1322
Ng, C.0000-0002-3616-5160
Nice, D. J.0000-0002-6709-2566
Pennucci, T. T.0000-0001-5465-2889
Pol, N. S.0000-0002-8826-1285
Ransom, S. M.0000-0001-5799-9714
Ray, P. S.0000-0002-5297-5278
Siemens, X.0000-0002-7778-2990
Spiewak, R.0000-0002-6730-3298
Stairs, I. H.0000-0001-9784-8670
Stinebring, D. R.0000-0002-1797-3277
Stovall, K.0000-0002-7261-594X
Swiggum, J. K.0000-0002-1075-3837
van Haasteren, R.0000-0002-6428-2620
Witt, C. A.0000-0002-6020-9274
Zhu, W. W.0000-0001-5105-4058
Additional Information:© 2020 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2020 January 22; revised 2020 February 21; accepted 2020 February 24; published 2020 April 21. We are grateful to Agnès Fienga, Joseph Romano, Alvin Chua, and Maria Charisi for useful comments and interactions. The NANOGrav project receives support from National Science Foundation (NSF) Physics Frontier Center award #1430284. NANOGrav research at U.B.C. is supported by an NSERC Discovery Grant and Discovery Accelerator Supplement and by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. M.V. and J.S. acknowledge support from the JPL RTD program. S.R.T. was partially supported by an appointment to the NASA Postdoctoral Program at JPL, administered by Oak Ridge Associated Universities through a contract with NASA. J.A.E. was partially supported by NASA through Einstein Fellowship grants PF4-150120. Portions of this work performed at NRL are supported by the Chief of Naval Research. The Flatiron Institute is supported by the Simons Foundation. Portions of this research were carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. This work was supported in part by National Science Foundation grant PHYS-1066293 and by the hospitality of the Aspen Center for Physics. We are grateful for computational resources provided by the Leonard E. Parker Center for Gravitation, Cosmology and Astrophysics at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, which is supported by NSF grants 0923409 and 1626190. Data for this project were collected using the facilities of the Green Bank Observatory and the Arecibo Observatory. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory and Green Bank Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc. The Arecibo Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by the University of Central Florida in alliance with Yang Enterprises, Inc. and Universidad Metropolitana. Author contributions: this document is the result of more than a decade of work by the entire NANOGrav collaboration. We acknowledge specific contributions below. Z.A., K.C., P.B.D., M.E.D., T.D., J.A.E., R.D.F., E.C.F., E.F., P.A.G., G.J., M.L.J., M.T.L., L.L., D.R.L., R.S.L., M.A.M., C.N., D.J.N., T.T.P., S.M.R., P.S.R., R.S., I.H.S., K.S., J.K.S., and W.W.Z. developed the 11 yr data set. M.V. led this analysis and coordinated writing. M.V., S.R.T., and J.S. developed BayesEphem, managed Bayesian-inference runs, and performed data analysis, with help from C.C., J.A.E., T.J.W.L., and S.J.V. M.V., S.R.T., and J.S. wrote this article, with edits by D.J.N., M.T.L., T.J.W.L., D.L.K., J.S.H., and S.J.V. Ephemeris data and expertise were provided by W.M.F. and R.S.P.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)UNSPECIFIED
Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)UNSPECIFIED
JPL Research and Technology Development FundUNSPECIFIED
NASA Postdoctoral ProgramUNSPECIFIED
NASA Einstein FellowshipPF4-150120
Chief of Naval ResearchUNSPECIFIED
Simons FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Gravitational waves ; Astronomy data analysis ; Ephemerides ; Pulsar timing method ; Millisecond pulsars
Issue or Number:2
Classification Code:Unified Astronomy Thesaurus concepts: Gravitational waves (678); Astronomy data analysis (1858); Ephemerides (464); Pulsar timing method (1305); Millisecond pulsars (1062)
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200422-064558404
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Official Citation:M. Vallisneri et al 2020 ApJ 893 112
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:102706
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:22 Apr 2020 15:05
Last Modified:22 Apr 2020 15:05

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