The couplings between supermassive black hole binaries (SMBHBs) and their environments within galactic nuclei have been well studied as part of the search for solutions to the final parsec problem. The scattering of stars by the binary or the interaction with a circumbinary disk may efficiently drive the system to sub-parsec separations, allowing the binary to enter a regime where the emission of gravitational waves can drive it to merger within a Hubble time. However, these interactions can also affect the orbital parameters of the binary. In particular, they may drive an increase in binary eccentricity which survives until the system's gravitational-wave (GW) signal enters the pulsar-timing array (PTA) band. Therefore, if we can measure the eccentricity from observed signals, we can potentially deduce some of the properties of the binary environment. To this end, we build on previous techniques to present a general Bayesian pipeline with which we can detect and estimate the parameters of an eccentric SMBHB system with PTAs. Additionally, we generalize the PTA -statistic to eccentric systems, and show that both this statistic and the Bayesian pipeline are robust when studying circular or arbitrarily eccentric systems. We explore how eccentricity influences the detection prospects of single GW sources, as well as the detection penalty incurred by employing a circular waveform template to search for eccentric signals, and conclude by identifying important avenues for future study.
Digital Commons Citation
Taylor, S. R.; Huerta, E. A.; Gair, J. R.; and McWilliams, S. T., "Detecting Eccentric Supermassive Black Hole Binaries With Pulsar Timing Arrays: Resolvable Source Strategies" (2016). Faculty & Staff Scholarship. 9.
Taylor, S. R., Huerta, E. A., Gair, J. R., & McWilliams, S. T. (2016). Detecting Eccentric Supermassive Black Hole Binaries With Pulsar Timing Arrays: Resolvable Source Strategies. The Astrophysical Journal, 817(1), 70. http://doi.org/10.3847/0004-637X/817/1/70