AAS Meeting #193 - Austin, Texas, January 1999
Session 48. HEAD I: Gravitational Radiation from Astrophysical Sources
Division, Oral, Thursday, January 7, 1999, 10:00-11:00am, Ballroom A

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[48.04] Pulsar Timing Measurements of Gravitational Waves

D. J. Nice (Princeton University)

The discovery of the Hulse-Taylor binary pulsar, PSR B1913+16, along with more than two decades of subsequent pulsar timing measurements, has lead to spectacular confirmation of the emission of gravitational radiation by tight binary star systems. We will review the measurements of the Hulse-Taylor binary and other double neutron star systems. In particular we will discuss recent observations of PSR B1534+12, which have yielded measurements of five relativistic parameters; this overdetermination provides a stringent test for relativistic theories of gravity. The rate of orbital period decrease of this system is biased somewhat by changes in its Doppler shift due to transverse motion. This effect has been used to measure the distance to the system to be around 1 kpc, somewhat farther than the 0.7 kpc estimated from the pulsar's dispersion measure. Estimates of the neutron star inspiral rate are very sensitive to the parameters of the three known tight double neutron star systems, especially those of the nearby B1534+12 system. The increase in distance to B1534+12 (and subsequent decrease in space density of similar systems) tends to reduce estimates of the inspiral rate by a factor of two. We will also discuss prospects for discovering further tight pulsar binary systems, and we will touch briefly on the use of millisecond pulsar-earth baselines as detectors for long period (>> 1 year) gravitational waves.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: david@pulsar.princeton.edu

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