Searching for gravitational wave memory bursts with the Parkes Pulsar Timing Array

J. B. Wang, G. Hobbs, William A Coles, Ryan M Shannon, X. J. Zhu, D. R. Madison, M. Kerr, Vikram Ravi, Michael J. Keith, Richard Norman Manchester, Y. Levin, M. Bailes, N. D R Bhat, Sarah Burke-Spolaor, S. Dai, Stefan Oslowski, Willem van Straten, Lawrence Toomey, N. Wang, L Wen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Anisotropic bursts of gravitational radiation produced by events such as supermassive black hole mergers leave permanent imprints on space. Such gravitational wave 'memory' (GWM) signals are, in principle, detectable through pulsar timing as sudden changes in the apparent pulse frequency of a pulsar. If an array of pulsars is monitored as aGWMsignal passes over the Earth, the pulsars would simultaneously appear to change pulse frequency by an amount that varies with their sky position in a quadrupolar fashion. Here, we describe a search algorithm for such events and apply the algorithm to approximately six years of data from the Parkes Pulsar Timing Array. We find no GWM events and set an upper bound on the rate for events which could have been detected. We show, using simple models of black hole coalescence rates, that this non-detection is not unexpected.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1657-1671
Number of pages15
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Gravitational waves
  • Methods: data analysis
  • Pulsars: general

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