Searching for Gravitational Waves from Cosmological Phase Transitions with the NANOGrav 12.5-Year Dataset
We search for a first-order phase transition gravitational wave signal in 45 pulsars from the NANOGrav 12.5-year dataset. We find that the data can be modeled in terms of a strong first order phase transition taking place at temperatures below the electroweak scale. However, we do not observe any strong preference for a phase-transition interpretation of the signal over the standard astrophysical interpretation in terms of supermassive black hole mergers; but we expect to gain additional discriminating power with future datasets, improving the signal to noise ratio and extending the sensitivity window to lower frequencies. An interesting open question is how well gravitational wave observatories could separate such signals.
Physical Review Letters
- Pub Date:
- December 2021
- Astrophysics - Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics;
- High Energy Physics - Phenomenology
- 13 pages, 4 figures. v2: updated to match published version