National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Detecting Gravitational Waves (and doing other cool physics) with Millisecond Pulsars
The first millisecond pulsar was discovered in 1982. Since that time
their use as highly-accurate celestial clocks has improved
continually, so that they are now regularly used to measure a variety
of general relativistic effects and probe a variety of topics in basic
physics, such as the equation of state of matter at supra-nuclear
densities. One of their most exciting uses though, is the current
North American (NANOGrav) and international (the International Pulsar
Timing Array) efforts to directly detect nanohertz frequency
gravitational waves, most likely originating from the ensemble of
supermassive black hole binaries scattered throughout the universe.
In this talk I'll describe how we are using an ensemble of pulsars to
try to make such a measurement, how we could make a detection within
the next 5-10 years, and how we get a wide variety of very interesting
secondary science from the pulsars in the meantime.