Pulsar timing observations are used to place constraints on the rate of coalescence of supermassive black-hole (SMBH) binaries as a function of mass and redshift. In contrast to the indirect constraints obtained from other techniques, pulsar timing observations provide a direct constraint on the black-hole merger rate. This is possible since pulsar timing is sensitive to the gravitational waves (GWs) emitted by these sources in the final stages of their evolution. We find that upper bounds calculated from the recently published Parkes Pulsar Timing Array data are just above theoretical predictions for redshifts below 10. In the future, with improved timing precision and longer data spans, we show that a non-detection of GWs will rule out some of the available parameter space in a particular class of SMBH binary merger models. We also show that if we can time a set of pulsars to 10ns timing accuracy, for example, using the proposed Square Kilometre Array, it should be possible to detect one or more individual SMBH binary systems. Â© 2011. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
Z. L. Wen, et. al., (2011) Constraining the coalescence rate of supermassive black-hole binaries using pulsar timing.Astrophysical Journal730:1. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1088/0004-637X/730/1/29