Document Type


Publication Date



We compute the sensitivity, constrained by instrumental, propagation, and other fundamental noises, of pulsar timing to very-low-frequency gravitational waves (GWs). Reaching predicted GW signal strengths will require suppression of time-of-arrival fluctuations caused by interstellar plasma turbulence and a reduction of white rms timing noise to 100ns. Assuming negligible intrinsic pulsar rotational noise, perfect time transfer from time standard to observatory, and stable pulse profiles, the resulting single-pulsar signal-to-noise ratio=1 sensitivity is limited by terrestrial time standards at hrms∼2×10-16[f/(1cycle/year)]-1/2 for f<3×10-8Hz, where f is the Fourier frequency and a bandwidth of 1 cycle/(10 years) is assumed. Since this sensitivity is comparable to predicted GW signal levels, a reliable detection will require substantial signal-to-noise ratio improvement via pulsar timing array. © 2011 American Physical Society.


© Physical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology. Original version available at:

Publication Title

Physical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology





To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.