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Probing supermassive black hole binaries with pulsar timing

The detection of a gravitational-wave background at nanohertz frequencies can tell us if and how supermassive black holes merge, and inform our knowledge of galaxy merger rates and supermassive black hole masses. All we have to do is time pulsars.

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Fig. 1: Astrophysics manifesting in the gravitational-wave background strain spectrum.

S. Burke-Spolaor (West Virginia University)

Fig. 2: Time to detection of different models of the gravitational-wave background (GWB).

adapted from ref. 8, AAS

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Acknowledgements

I thank J. Lazio, D. Foreman-Mackey and X. Siemens for useful discussions. I also thank S. Taylor and S. Burke-Spolaor for permission to edit and reproduce some of their figures. The Flatiron Institute is funded by the Simons Foundation.

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Correspondence to Chiara M. F. Mingarelli.

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Mingarelli, C.M.F. Probing supermassive black hole binaries with pulsar timing. Nat Astron 3, 8–10 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41550-018-0666-y

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