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Today's Colloquium: Detecting Gravitational Waves with Millisecond Pulsars

Submitter: Paul Demorest
Description: Millisecond spin-period radio pulsars provide us with unique astronomical "laboratories" for exploring fundamental physics in a variety of ways -- from the physics of matter at super-nuclear density, to experimental tests of gravity. They have also provided the only experimental evidence so far for the existence of gravitational waves (GW).

A set of millisecond pulsars acting as precise astronomical clocks may also be used as a direct GW detector, sensitive to the nanohertz-frequency GW expected to be emitted by supermassive black hole binary systems.

The NANOGrav project has been monitoring a set of pulsars using the Green Bank and Arecibo radio telescopes for the past decade; I will present an overview of the project, current results from NANOGrav's recent "nine year" data release, preview the upcoming "eleven year" data set and summarize prospects for future GW detection using pulsar timing.
Copyright: Paul Demorest
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