We analyze the effect of weak field gravitational waves on the timing of pulsars, with particular attention to gauge invariance, that is, to the effects that are independent of the choice of coordinates. We find (1) the Doppler shift cannot be separated into gauge invariant gravitational wave and kinetic contributions; (2) a gauge invariant separation can be made for the time derivative of the Doppler shift in which the gravitational wave contribution is directly related to the Riemann tensor, and the kinetic contribution is that for special relativity; (3) the gaugedependent effects in the Doppler shift play no role in the program of gravitational wave detection via pulsar timing. The direct connection shown between pulsar timing and the Riemann tensor of the gravitational waves will be of importance in discussions of gravitational waves from alternative (non-Einsteinian) theories of gravitation.
Teviet Creighton, et. al., (2009) Pulsar timing and spacetime curvature.Astrophysical Journal693:21113. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1088/0004-637X/693/2/1113