The noise properties of 42 millisecond pulsars from the European Pulsar Timing Array and their impact on gravitational wave searches

R. N. Caballero, K. J. Lee, L. Lentati, G. Desvignes, D. J. Champion, J. P. W. Verbiest, G. H. Janssen, B. W. Stappers, M. Kramer, P. Lazarus, A. Possenti, C. Tiburzi, D. Perrodin, S. Osłowski, S. Babak, C. G. Bassa, P. Brem, M. Burgay, I. Cognard, J. R. GairE. Graikou, L. Guillemot, J. W. T. Hessels, R. Karuppusamy, A. Lassus, K. Liu, J. McKee, C. M. F. Mingarelli, A. Petiteau, M. B. Purver, P. A. Rosado, S. Sanidas, A. Sesana, G. Shaifullah, R. Smits, S. R. Taylor, G. Theureau, R. van Haasteren, A. Vecchio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The sensitivity of Pulsar Timing Arrays to gravitational waves depends critically on the noise present in the individual pulsar timing data. Noise may be either intrinsic or extrinsic to the pulsar. Intrinsic sources of noise might come from rotational instabilities, for example. Extrinsic sources of noise include contributions from physical processes which are not sufficiently well modelled, for example, dispersion and scattering effects, analysis errors and instrumental instabilities. We present the results from a noise analysis for 42 millisecond pulsars (MSPs) observed with the European Pulsar Timing Array. For characterising the low-frequency, stochastic and achromatic noise component, or "timing noise", we employ two methods, based on Bayesian and frequentist statistics. For 25 MSPs, we achieve statistically significant measurements of their timing noise parameters and find that the two methods give consistent results. For the remaining 17 MSPs, we place upper limits on the timing noise amplitude at the 95% confidence level. We additionally place an upper limit on the contribution to the measured timing noise from errors in the reference terrestrial time standards (below 10%) and find evidence for a noise component which is present only in the data of one of the four used telescopes. Finally, we estimate that the timing noise of individual pulsars reduces the sensitivity of this data set to an isotropic, stochastic GW background by a factor of >12.5 and by a factor of >3.4 for continuous GWs from resolvable, inspiralling supermassive black-hole binaries with circular orbits.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4421-4440
Number of pages21
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Early online date7 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2016


  • astro-ph.IM
  • astro-ph.CO


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