The Gravitational-Wave Universe seen by Pulsar Timing Arrays

Galaxy mergers are a standard aspect of galaxy formation and evolution, and most (likely all) large galaxies contain supermassive black holes. As part of the merging process, the supermassive black holes should in-spiral together and eventually merge, generating a background of gravitational radiation in the nanohertz to microhertz regime. Processes in the early Universe such as relic gravitational waves and cosmic strings may also generate gravitational radiation in the same frequency band. An array of precisely timed pulsars spread across the sky can form a galactic-scale gravitational wave detector in the nanohertz band. I describe the current efforts to develop and extend the pulsar timing array concept, together with recent limits which have emerged from North American and international efforts to constrain astrophysical phenomena at the heart of supermassive black hole mergers.

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Thursday, November 3, 2016 - 13:00 to 14:30
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