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A Search for Gravitational Radiation from PSR 1937+214


Hereld, Mark (1984) A Search for Gravitational Radiation from PSR 1937+214. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/gyg6-rj98.


A search for gravitational radiation from the "millisecond pulsar", PSR 1937+214, using a 40 meter baseline laser interferometric detector is described. Four days of observation yielded 1.2 x 105 seconds of data. Throughout the experiment, the pulsar phase was synthesized to an accuracy of better than one tenth of the pulsar period. A trigger generated from this signal synchronized the data averaging. Narrow band amplitude spectra centered at the pulsar's fundamental electromagnetic pulsation frequency (~642 Hz) and its first harmonic were obtained. The spectra, one for each combination of polarization and center frequency, place 99.7% confidence level limits on the emitted gravitational radiation. In dimensionless strain, h, the rms limits are:

642 Hz "plus" polarization 1.6 x 10-17

" "cross" " 3.1 x 10-17

1294 Hz "plus" polarization 1.1 x 10-17

" "cross" " 1.5 x 10-17

Over the four day observing period, the performance of the detector varied with changing temperature. During the stable night hours, the two optical cavities remained locked to reflection minima for 20 to 80 minutes before momentarily losing lock. Temperature changes of 1° to 2°C in the morning and evening necessitated compensating adjustments to the optics to maintain good fringe visibility.

The interferometer senses changes in the separations between three test masses. The test masses hang like pendulums so that they are free to move in response to gravitational radiation. The suspension system is designed to provide passive isolation from seismic and environmental vibration noise. The orientation of each test mass is stabilized with a feedback loop. The design of the test masses, their suspension systems, and the servo system which controls their orientation is described.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Physics; Computer Science
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Major Option:Physics
Minor Option:Computer Science
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Drever, Ronald W. P.
Thesis Committee:
  • Drever, Ronald W. P. (chair)
  • Whitcomb, Stanley E.
  • Blandford, Roger D.
  • Peck, Charles W.
Defense Date:17 June 1983
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:10302018-175018310
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:11256
Deposited By: Mel Ray
Deposited On:05 Nov 2018 18:09
Last Modified:16 Apr 2021 23:13

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