The MeerTime Pulsar Timing Array — A Census of Emission Properties and Timing Potential

MeerTime is a five-year Large Survey Project to time pulsars with MeerKAT, the 64-dish South African precursor to the Square Kilometre Array. The science goals for the programme include timing millisecond pulsars (MSPs) to high precision (< 1 μs) to study the Galactic MSP population and to contribute to global efforts to detect nanohertz gravitational waves with the International Pulsar Timing Array (IPTA). In order to plan for the remainder of the programme and to use the allocated time most efficiently, we have conducted an initial census with the MeerKAT “L-band” receiver of 189 MSPs visible to MeerKAT and here present their dispersion measures, polarization profiles, polarization fractions, rotation measures, flux density measurements, spectral indices, and timing potential. As all of these observations are taken with the same instrument (which uses coherent dedispersion, interferometric polarization calibration techniques, and a uniform flux scale), they present an excellent resource for population studies. We used wideband pulse portraits as timing standards for each MSP and demonstrated that the MeerTime Pulsar Timing Array (MPTA) can already contribute significantly to the IPTA as it currently achieves better than 1 μs timing accuracy on 89 MSPs (observed with fortnightly cadence). By the conclusion of the initial five-year MeerTime programme in July 2024, the MPTA will be extremely significant in global efforts to detect the gravitational wave background with a contribution to the detection statistic comparable to other long-standing timing programmes.

The MeerTime Pulsar Timing Array — A Census of Emission Properties and Timing Potential, R. SpiewakM. BailesM. T. MilesA. ParthasarathyD. J. ReardonM. ShamohammadiR. M. ShannonN. D. R. BhatS. BuchnerA. D. CameronF. CamiloM. GeyerS. JohnstonA. KarastergiouM. KeithM. KramerM. SerylakW. van StratenG. TheureauV. Venkatraman Krishnan, Data to be made available under the DOI at the time of publication, arXiv:2204.04115