161 research outputs found

    What can we learn about neutron stars from gravity-wave observations?

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    In the next few years, the first detections of gravity-wave signals using Earth-based interferometric detectors will begin to provide precious new information about the structure and dynamics of compact bodies such as neutron stars. The intrinsic weakness of gravity-wave signals requires a proactive approach to modeling the prospective sources and anticipating the shape of the signals that we seek to detect. Full-blown 3-D numerical simulations of the sources are playing and will play an important role in planning the gravity-wave data-analysis effort. I review some recent analytical and numerical work on neutron stars as sources of gravity waves.Comment: Revtex 4, 3 EPS figures. To appear in the proceedings of the 25th J. Hopkins Workshop on Current Problems in Particle Theory; 2001: A Relativistic Spacetime Odyssey, Florence, Sep. 3--5, 200

    Ephemeral point-events: is there a last remnant of physical objectivity?

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    For the past two decades, Einstein's Hole Argument (which deals with the apparent indeterminateness of general relativity due to the general covariance of the field equations) and its resolution in terms of Leibniz equivalence (the statement that Riemannian geometries related by active diffeomorphisms represent the same physical solution) have been the starting point for a lively philosophical debate on the objectivity of the point-events of space-time. It seems that Leibniz equivalence makes it impossible to consider the points of the space-time manifold as physically individuated without recourse to dynamical individuating fields. Various authors have posited that the metric field itself can be used in this way, but nobody so far has considered the problem of explicitly distilling the metrical fingerprint of point-events from the gauge-dependent components of the metric field. Working in the Hamiltonian formulation of general relativity, and building on the results of Lusanna and Pauri (2002), we show how Bergmann and Komar's intrinsic pseudo-coordinates (based on the value of curvature invariants) can be used to provide a physical individuation of point-events in terms of the true degrees of freedom (the Dirac observables) of the gravitational field, and we suggest how this conceptual individuation could in principle be implemented with a well-defined empirical procedure. We argue from these results that point-events retain a significant kind of physical objectivity.Comment: LaTeX, natbib, 34 pages. Final journal versio

    Marzke-Wheeler coordinates for accelerated observers in special relativity

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    In special relativity, the definition of coordinate systems adapted to generic accelerated observers is a long-standing problem, which has found unequivocal solutions only for the simplest motions. We show that the Marzke-Wheeler construction, an extension of the Einstein synchronization convention, produces accelerated systems of coordinates with desirable properties: (a) they reduce to Lorentz coordinates in a neighborhood of the observers' world-lines; (b) they index continuously and completely the causal envelope of the world-line (that is, the intersection of its causal past and its causal future: for well-behaved world-lines, the entire space-time). In particular, Marzke-Wheeler coordinates provide a smooth and consistent foliation of the causal envelope of any accelerated observer into space-like surfaces. We compare the Marzke-Wheeler procedure with other definitions of accelerated coordinates; we examine it in the special case of stationary motions, and we provide explicit coordinate transformations for uniformly accelerated and uniformly rotating observers. Finally, we employ the notion of Marzke-Wheeler simultaneity to clarify the relativistic paradox of the twins, by pinpointing the local origin of differential aging.Comment: AmsLaTeX, 22 pages, 8 eps figures; revised, references added. To appear in Foundations of Physics Letters, October 200

    Bayesian inference for pulsar timing models

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    The extremely regular, periodic radio emission from millisecond pulsars makes them useful tools for studying neutron star astrophysics, general relativity, and low-frequency gravitational waves. These studies require that the observed pulse times of arrival be fit to complex timing models that describe numerous effects such as the astrometry of the source, the evolution of the pulsar's spin, the presence of a binary companion, and the propagation of the pulses through the interstellar medium. In this paper, we discuss the benefits of using Bayesian inference to obtain pulsar timing solutions. These benefits include the validation of linearized least-squares model fits when they are correct, and the proper characterization of parameter uncertainties when they are not; the incorporation of prior parameter information and of models of correlated noise; and the Bayesian comparison of alternative timing models. We describe our computational setup, which combines the timing models of Tempo2 with the nested-sampling integrator MultiNest. We compare the timing solutions generated using Bayesian inference and linearized least-squares for three pulsars: B1953+29, J2317+1439, and J1640+2224, which demonstrate a variety of the benefits that we posit.Comment: 13 pages, 4 figures, RevTeX 4.1. Revised in response to referee's suggestions; contains a broader discussion of model comparison, revised Monte Carlo runs, improved figure

    Taming outliers in pulsar-timing datasets with hierarchical likelihoods and Hamiltonian sampling

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    Pulsar-timing datasets have been analyzed with great success using probabilistic treatments based on Gaussian distributions, with applications ranging from studies of neutron-star structure to tests of general relativity and searches for nanosecond gravitational waves. As for other applications of Gaussian distributions, outliers in timing measurements pose a significant challenge to statistical inference, since they can bias the estimation of timing and noise parameters, and affect reported parameter uncertainties. We describe and demonstrate a practical end-to-end approach to perform Bayesian inference of timing and noise parameters robustly in the presence of outliers, and to identify these probabilistically. The method is fully consistent (i.e., outlier-ness probabilities vary in tune with the posterior distributions of the timing and noise parameters), and it relies on the efficient sampling of the hierarchical form of the pulsar-timing likelihood. Such sampling has recently become possible with a "no-U-turn" Hamiltonian sampler coupled to a highly customized reparametrization of the likelihood; this code is described elsewhere, but it is already available online. We recommend our method as a standard step in the preparation of pulsar-timing-array datasets: even if statistical inference is not affected, follow-up studies of outlier candidates can reveal unseen problems in radio observations and timing measurements; furthermore, confidence in the results of gravitational-wave searches will only benefit from stringent statistical evidence that datasets are clean and outlier-free.Comment: 6 pages, 2 figures, RevTeX 4.
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