Pulsar Timing and the Special Theory of Relativity

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Scientific Paper
Title Pulsar Timing and the Special Theory of Relativity
Author(s) Curtis E Renshaw
Keywords relativity, pulsar timing, gravitational field
Published 1996
Journal Galilean Electrodynamics
Volume 7
Number 2
Pages 30-34


Millisecond pulsar timing algorithms place all measurements into a solar-centered reference frame, which is assumed to be inertial with respect to the Earth, after correcting the Earth's motion to that of a perfectly circular orit in a constant gravitational field.  However, this analysis is valid only if the pulsar exhibits no proper motion with respect to solar barycenter.  Since this is likely never to be the case, a relativistic correction must be made to account for the Earth's constantly changing velocity with respect to the reference frame of the pulsar source.  This correction takes the form of a periodic timing residual, on the order or microseconds, which should be detectable through the use of pulsar timing arrays, low period pulsars with large proper motions.  The absence of such a residual may constitute a failure of special relativity.