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We search for the signature of an isotropic stochastic gravitational-wave background in pulsar timing observations using a frequency-domain correlation technique. These observations, which span roughly 12yr, were obtained with the 64-m Parkes radio telescope augmented by public domain observations from the Arecibo Observatory. A wide range of signal processing issues unique to pulsar timing and not previously presented in the literature are discussed. These include the effects of quadratic removal, irregular sampling and variable errors which exacerbate the spectral leakage inherent in estimating the steep red spectrum of the gravitational-wave background. These observations are found to be consistent with the null hypothesis that no gravitational-wave background is present, with 76 per cent confidence. We show that the detection statistic is dominated by the contributions of only a few pulsars because of the inhomogeneity of this data set. The issues of detecting the signature of a gravitational-wave background with future observations are discussed. © 2011 The Authors Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2011 RAS.


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Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society





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