Pulsar timing noise from superfluid turbulence


Shear-driven turbulence in the superfluid interior of a neutron star exerts a fluctuating torque on the rigid crust, causing the rotational phase to walk randomly. The phase fluctuation spectrum is calculated analytically for incompressible Kolmogorov turbulence and is found to be red; the half-power point is set by the observed spin-down rate, the crust-superfluid lag, and the dynamical response time of the superfluid. Preliminary limits are placed on the latter quantities using selected time- and frequency-domain data. It is found that measurements of the normalization and slope of the power spectrum are reproduced for reasonable choices of the turbulence parameters. The results point preferentially to the neutron star interior containing a turbulent superfluid rather than a turbulent Navier-Stokes fluid. The implications for gravitational wave detection by pulsar timing arrays are discussed briefly.

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Date added: Mon, 14 Oct 13