Noise studies for Pulsar Timing Arrays

Millisecond pulsars are old neutron stars that has been spun up to a rotation period on the order of a millisecond. It is assumed that the spin-up mechanism can be an accretion of matter. Another fact is that millisecond pulsars are not spinning down very much, comparing to other pulsars, according to p-pdot diagram. Timing of radio-pulsars from these neutron stars is very precice. Pulsar Timing Arrays are setups of radio-observatories recording residuals from timing models of millisecond pulars. Cross-correlated timing residuals may indicate a presense of a stochastic gravitaitonal-wave background in the nHz band, and should include the gravitational-wave background from merging galaxies in the observable Universe.

This is short note about noise properties of PTA, and it will probably expand in the future.

Useful dimensional relations and acronyms

White noise

Measured "white" noise parameters of pulsars Phenomenological "white" noise parameters
  • EFAC (measurement noise multiplier)
  • EQUAD (quadrature-added noise)
  • ECORR (jitter-like epoch-correlated noise)
  • Radiometer noise (telescope instrument noise)
  • Jitter noise (intrinsic pulsar timing noise)
  • Scintillation noise
The above are factors that should be applied to uncertainty of arrival times (sigma_toa) in order to obtain a total white noise. The above factors are physical sources of noise in PTA experiments.

Red noise

Uncorrelated between pulsars Correlated between pulsars
Pulsar spin noise - irregularities in pulse ToA due to neutron star physics Stochastic gravitational-wave background from supermassive binary black holes :)
DM variations - they influence ToA due to interaction of radio-waves with electrons from interstellar medium. Noise PSD depends on radio-frequency, and can have a time-varying semi-periodic component (DM1 and DM2). In principle, can be subtracted. Solar system ephemeris errors - errors in knowing positions and masses of celestial bodies in our Solar system
Jumps, or phase jumps - errors arising from switching observing backends. This noise can be subtracted. Clock errors

Recent Work