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Optimized Blind Gamma-Ray Pulsar Searches at Fixed Computing Budget


The sensitivity of blind gamma-ray pulsar searches in multiple years worth of photon data, as from the Fermi LAT, is primarily limited by the finite computational resources available. Addressing this "needle in a haystack" problem, here we present methods for optimizing blind searches to achieve the highest sensitivity at fixed computing cost. For both coherent and semicoherent methods, we consider their statistical properties and study their search sensitivity under computational constraints. The results validate a multistage strategy, where the first stage scans the entire parameter space using an efficient semicoherent method and promising candidates are then refined through a fully coherent analysis. We also find that for the first stage of a blind search incoherent harmonic summing of powers is not worthwhile at fixed computing cost for typical gamma-ray pulsars. Further enhancing sensitivity, we present efficiency-improved interpolation techniques for the semicoherent search stage. Via realistic simulations we demonstrate that overall these optimizations can significantly lower the minimum detectable pulsed fraction by almost 50% at the same computational expense.


Pletsch, Holger J.; Clark, Colin J.


Astrophysical Journal

Paper Publication Date

November 2014

Paper Type


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