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Caltech/JPL Association for Gravitational-Wave Research Seminar

Tuesday, December 10, 2013
4:00pm to 5:00pm
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Cahill 370
The GW Discovery Space of Pulsar Timing Arrays
Curt Cutler, Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
In 1980 Zimmerman and Thorne published a paper entitled "The gravitational waves that bathe the Earth: upper limits based on theorists' cherished beliefs." Their idea was to imagine that there is some previously unknown type of gravitational-wave source out there, and consider what limits we can already place on the maximum strength of such a source, based on simple energetic and statistical arguments. Their emphasis on was possible LIGO detections of sources at z < 5. The recent activity in GW searches with pulsar timing arrays (PTAs) made it timely to re-visit this question in the context of PTAs, whose frequency band is 10^10 times lower. The results of this exercise turned out to be rather interesting. We find that sources from the very early universe, and especially memory-effect signals from early universe bursts, offer the largest potential discovery space (in the sense that they have the weakest current constraints). We explain these and related results.
For more information, please contact Michele Vallisneri by phone at (818) 393-7634 or by email at