Pulsars and Gravitational Waves – Further Information

The SKA will significantly enhance current efforts using pulsar timing arrays (PTAs), ensembles of millisecond pulsars that act as multiple arms of a cosmic gravitational wave detector, by detecting many more millisecond pulsars than is currently possible.


Graphical representation of a pulsar

The SKA will allow the pulsars to be timed to very high precision (~< 100 ns), making them very sensitive to the small space-time perturbations of gravitational waves. This ‘device’, with the SKA at its heart, will be sensitive to gravitational waves at frequencies of nHz thereby complementing the much higher frequencies accessible to Advanced LIGO (~100 Hz) and the proposed and possible European Space Agency spacecraft LISA (~mHz).

The SKA will provide crucial answers to questions about the existence, nature and composition of the gravitational wave background predicted by Einstein.


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