Modelling and mitigating refractive propagation effects in precision pulsar timing observations
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Â© 2016 The Authors. To obtain the most accurate pulse arrival times from radio pulsars, it is necessary to correct or mitigate the effects of the propagation of radio waves through the warm and ionized interstellar medium. We examine both the strength of propagation effects associated with large-scale electron-density variations and the methodology used to estimate infinite frequency arrival times. Using simulations of two-dimensional phase-varying screens, we assess the strength and non-stationarity of timing perturbations associated with large-scale density variations.We identify additional contributions to arrival times that are stochastic in both radio frequency and time and therefore not amenable to correction solely using times of arrival. We attribute this to the frequency dependence of the trajectories of the propagating radio waves. We find that this limits the efficacy of low-frequency (metre-wavelength) observations. Incorporating lowfrequency pulsar observations into precision timing campaigns is increasingly problematic for pulsars with larger dispersion measures.
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