results for au:Gair_J in:gr-qc

- Apr 04 2018 gr-qc arXiv:1804.00660v1The Gaia mission offers a new opportunity to search for the low frequency gravitational wave background using astrometric measurements. In this paper, the astrometric effect of gravitational waves is reviewed, with a particular focus on the effect of non-Einsteinian gravitational wave polarizations. A stochastic gravitational wave background generates a correlated vector field of astrometric deflections on the sky. A convenient decomposition for the correlation matrix is introduced, enabling it to be calculated for all possible gravitational wave polarizations and compared to the redshift correlations from the pulsar-timing literature; in the case of a GR background of transverse traceless gravitational waves, this also allows us to identify an astrometric analog of the famous Hellings-Downs curve. Finally, the cross-correlation between the redshift and astrometric signal is also calculated; this may form the basis for future joint pulsar-timing and astrometry searches for arbitrarily polarized gravitational wave backgrounds.
- Extreme-mass-ratio-inspiral observations from future space-based gravitational-wave detectors such as LISA will enable strong-field tests of general relativity with unprecedented precision, but at prohibitive computational cost if existing statistical techniques are used. In one such test that is currently employed for LIGO black-hole binary mergers, generic deviations from relativity are represented by $N$ deformation parameters in a generalised waveform model; the Bayesian evidence for each of its $2^N$ combinatorial submodels is then combined into a posterior odds ratio for modified gravity over relativity in a null-hypothesis test. We adapt and apply this test to a generalised model for extreme-mass-ratio inspirals constructed on deformed black-hole spacetimes, and focus our investigation on how computational efficiency can be increased through an evidence-free method of model selection. This method is akin to the algorithm known as product-space Markov chain Monte Carlo, but uses nested sampling and improved error estimates from a rethreading technique. We perform benchmarking and robustness checks for the method, and find order-of-magnitude computational gains over regular nested sampling in the case of synthetic data generated from the null model.
- Mar 01 2018 gr-qc astro-ph.CO arXiv:1802.10194v2The detection of gravitational waves with Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo has enabled novel tests of general relativity, including direct study of the polarization of gravitational waves. While general relativity allows for only two tensor gravitational-wave polarizations, general metric theories can additionally predict two vector and two scalar polarizations. The polarization of gravitational waves is encoded in the spectral shape of the stochastic gravitational-wave background, formed by the superposition of cosmological and individually-unresolved astrophysical sources. Using data recorded by Advanced LIGO during its first observing run, we search for a stochastic background of generically-polarized gravitational waves. We find no evidence for a background of any polarization, and place the first direct bounds on the contributions of vector and scalar polarizations to the stochastic background. Under log-uniform priors for the energy in each polarization, we limit the energy-densities of tensor, vector, and scalar modes at 95% credibility to $\Omega^T_0 < 5.6 \times 10^{-8}$, $\Omega^V_0 < 6.4\times 10^{-8}$, and $\Omega^S_0 < 1.1\times 10^{-7}$ at a reference frequency $f_0 = 25$ Hz.
- Feb 15 2018 gr-qc arXiv:1802.05241v1We report on a new all-sky search for periodic gravitational waves in the frequency band 475-2000 Hz and with a frequency time derivative in the range of [-1.0e-8, +1e-9] Hz/s. Potential signals could be produced by a nearby spinning and slightly non-axisymmetric isolated neutron star in our galaxy. This search uses the data from Advanced LIGO's first observational run O1. No gravitational wave signals were observed, and upper limits were placed on their strengths. For completeness, results from the separately published low frequency search 20-475 Hz are included as well. Our lowest upper limit on worst-case (linearly polarized) strain amplitude h_0 is 4e-25 near 170 Hz, while at the high end of our frequency range we achieve a worst-case upper limit of 1.3e-24. For a circularly polarized source (most favorable orientation), the smallest upper limit obtained is ~1.5e-25.
- Dec 05 2017 gr-qc astro-ph.CO arXiv:1712.01168v2Cosmic strings are topological defects which can be formed in GUT-scale phase transitions in the early universe. They are also predicted to form in the context of string theory. The main mechanism for a network of Nambu-Goto cosmic strings to lose energy is through the production of loops and the subsequent emission of gravitational waves, thus offering an experimental signature for the existence of cosmic strings. Here we report on the analysis conducted to specifically search for gravitational-wave bursts from cosmic string loops in the data of Advanced LIGO 2015-2016 observing run (O1). No evidence of such signals was found in the data, and as a result we set upper limits on the cosmic string parameters for three recent loop distribution models. In this paper, we initially derive constraints on the string tension $G\mu$ and the intercommutation probability, using not only the burst analysis performed on the O1 data set, but also results from the previously published LIGO stochastic O1 analysis, pulsar timing arrays, cosmic microwave background and Big-Bang nucleosynthesis experiments. We show that these data sets are complementary in that they probe gravitational waves produced by cosmic string loops during very different epochs. Finally, we show that the data sets exclude large parts of the parameter space of the three loop distribution models we consider.
- Nov 21 2017 gr-qc astro-ph.HE arXiv:1711.06843v1We present the results of a search for long-duration gravitational wave transients in the data of the LIGO Hanford and LIGO Livingston second generation detectors between September 2015 and January 2016, with a total observational time of 49 days. The search targets gravitational wave transients of \unit[10 -- 500]s duration in a frequency band of \unit[24 -- 2048]Hz, with minimal assumptions about the signal waveform, polarization, source direction, or time of occurrence. No significant events were observed. %All candidate triggers were consistent with the expected background, As a result we set 90\% confidence upper limits on the rate of long-duration gravitational wave transients for different types of gravitational wave signals. We also show that the search is sensitive to sources in the Galaxy emitting at least $\sim$ \unit[$10^{-8}$]$\mathrm{M_{\odot} c^2}$ in gravitational waves.
- We present $\texttt{ENIGMA}$, a time domain, inspiral-merger-ringdown waveform model that describes non-spinning binary black holes systems that evolve on moderately eccentric orbits. The inspiral evolution is described using a consistent combination of post-Newtonian theory, self-force and black hole perturbation theory. Assuming eccentric binaries that circularize prior to coalescence, we smoothly match the eccentric inspiral with a stand-alone, quasi-circular merger, which is constructed using machine learning algorithms that are trained with quasi-circular numerical relativity waveforms. We show that $\texttt{ENIGMA}$ reproduces with excellent accuracy the dynamics of quasi-circular compact binaries. We validate $\texttt{ENIGMA}$ using a set of $\texttt{Einstein Toolkit}$ eccentric numerical relativity waveforms, which describe eccentric binary black hole mergers with mass-ratios between $1 \leq q \leq 5.5$, and eccentricities $e_0 \lesssim 0.2$ ten orbits before merger. We use this model to explore in detail the physics that can be extracted with moderately eccentric, non-spinning binary black hole mergers. We use $\texttt{ENIGMA}$ to show that GW150914, GW151226, GW170104, GW170814 and GW170608 can be effectively recovered with spinning, quasi-circular templates if the eccentricity of these events at a gravitational wave frequency of 10Hz satisfies $e_0\leq \{0.175,\, 0.125,\,0.175,\,0.175,\, 0.125\}$, respectively. We show that if these systems have eccentricities $e_0\sim 0.1$ at a gravitational wave frequency of 10Hz, they can be misclassified as quasi-circular binaries due to parameter space degeneracies between eccentricity and spin corrections. Using our catalog of eccentric numerical relativity simulations, we discuss the importance of including higher-order waveform multipoles in gravitational wave searches of eccentric binary black hole mergers.
- Nov 16 2017 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1711.05578v1On June 8, 2017 at 02:01:16.49 UTC, a gravitational-wave signal from the merger of two stellar-mass black holes was observed by the two Advanced LIGO detectors with a network signal-to-noise ratio of 13. This system is the lightest black hole binary so far observed, with component masses $12^{+7}_{-2}\,M_\odot$ and $7^{+2}_{-2}\,M_\odot$ (90% credible intervals). These lie in the range of measured black hole masses in low-mass X-ray binaries, thus allowing us to compare black holes detected through gravitational waves with electromagnetic observations. The source's luminosity distance is $340^{+140}_{-140}$ Mpc, corresponding to redshift $0.07^{+0.03}_{-0.03}$. We verify that the signal waveform is consistent with the predictions of general relativity.
- Oct 26 2017 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1710.09320v1The first observation of a binary neutron star coalescence by the Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo gravitational-wave detectors offers an unprecedented opportunity to study matter under the most extreme conditions. After such a merger, a compact remnant is left over whose nature depends primarily on the masses of the inspiralling objects and on the equation of state of nuclear matter. This could be either a black hole or a neutron star (NS), with the latter being either long-lived or too massive for stability implying delayed collapse to a black hole. Here, we present a search for gravitational waves from the remnant of the binary neutron star merger GW170817 using data from Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo. We search for short ($\lesssim1$ s) and intermediate-duration ($\lesssim 500$ s) signals, which includes gravitational-wave emission from a hypermassive NS or supramassive NS, respectively. We find no signal from the post-merger remnant. Our derived strain upper limits are more than an order of magnitude larger than those predicted by most models. For short signals, our best upper limit on the root-sum-square of the gravitational-wave strain emitted from 1--4 kHz is $h_{\rm rss}^{50\%}=2.1\times 10^{-22}$ Hz$^{-1/2}$ at 50% detection efficiency. For intermediate-duration signals, our best upper limit at 50% detection efficiency is $h_{\rm rss}^{50\%}=8.4\times 10^{-22}$ Hz$^{-1/2}$ for a millisecond magnetar model, and $h_{\rm rss}^{50\%}=5.9\times 10^{-22}$ Hz$^{-1/2}$ for a bar-mode model. These results indicate that post-merger emission from a similar event may be detectable when advanced detectors reach design sensitivity or with next-generation detectors.
- Oct 17 2017 gr-qc arXiv:1710.05837v1The LIGO Scientific and Virgo Collaborations have announced the first detection of gravitational waves from the coalescence of two neutron stars. The merger rate of binary neutron stars estimated from this event suggests that distant, unresolvable binary neutron stars create a significant astrophysical stochastic gravitational-wave background. The binary neutron star background will add to the background from binary black holes, increasing the amplitude of the total astrophysical background relative to previous expectations. In the Advanced LIGO-Virgo frequency band most sensitive to stochastic backgrounds (near 25 Hz), we predict a total astrophysical background with amplitude $\Omega_{\rm GW} (f=25 \text{Hz}) = 1.8_{-1.3}^{+2.7} \times 10^{-9}$ with $90\%$ confidence, compared with $\Omega_{\rm GW} (f=25 \text{Hz}) = 1.1_{-0.7}^{+1.2} \times 10^{-9}$ from binary black holes alone. Assuming the most probable rate for compact binary mergers, we find that the total background may be detectable with a signal-to-noise-ratio of 3 after 40 months of total observation time, based on the expected timeline for Advanced LIGO and Virgo to reach their design sensitivity.
- Oct 09 2017 gr-qc astro-ph.IM arXiv:1710.02185v3The first observing run of Advanced LIGO spanned 4 months, from September 12, 2015 to January 19, 2016, during which gravitational waves were directly detected from two binary black hole systems, namely GW150914 and GW151226. Confident detection of gravitational waves requires an understanding of instrumental transients and artifacts that can reduce the sensitivity of a search. Studies of the quality of the detector data yield insights into the cause of instrumental artifacts and data quality vetoes specific to a search are produced to mitigate the effects of problematic data. In this paper, the systematic removal of noisy data from analysis time is shown to improve the sensitivity of searches for compact binary coalescences. The output of the PyCBC pipeline, which is a python-based code package used to search for gravitational wave signals from compact binary coalescences, is used as a metric for improvement. GW150914 was a loud enough signal that removing noisy data did not improve its significance. However, the removal of data with excess noise decreased the false alarm rate of GW151226 by more than two orders of magnitude, from 1 in 770 years to less than 1 in 186000 years.
- Oct 09 2017 gr-qc astro-ph.HE arXiv:1710.02327v2Spinning neutron stars asymmetric with respect to their rotation axis are potential sources of continuous gravitational waves for ground-based interferometric detectors. In the case of known pulsars a fully coherent search, based on matched filtering, which uses the position and rotational parameters obtained from electromagnetic observations, can be carried out. Matched filtering maximizes the signal-to-noise (SNR) ratio, but a large sensitivity loss is expected in case of even a very small mismatch between the assumed and the true signal parameters. For this reason, \it narrow-band analyses methods have been developed, allowing a fully coherent search for gravitational waves from known pulsars over a fraction of a hertz and several spin-down values. In this paper we describe a narrow-band search of eleven pulsars using data from Advanced LIGO's first observing run. Although we have found several initial outliers, further studies show no significant evidence for the presence of a gravitational wave signal. Finally, we have placed upper limits on the signal strain amplitude lower than the spin-down limit for 5 of the 11 targets over the bands searched: in the case of J1813-1749 the spin-down limit has been beaten for the first time. For an additional 3 targets, the median upper limit across the search bands is below the spin-down limit. This is the most sensitive narrow-band search for continuous gravitational waves carried out so far.
- Sep 28 2017 gr-qc arXiv:1709.09203v1We present results from the first directed search for nontensorial gravitational waves. While general relativity allows for tensorial (plus and cross) modes only, a generic metric theory may, in principle, predict waves with up to six different polarizations. This analysis is sensitive to continuous signals of scalar, vector or tensor polarizations, and does not rely on any specific theory of gravity. After searching data from the first observation run of the advanced LIGO detectors for signals at twice the rotational frequency of 200 known pulsars, we find no evidence of gravitational waves of any polarization. We report the first upper limits for scalar and vector strains, finding values comparable in magnitude to previously-published limits for tensor strain. Our results may be translated into constraints on specific alternative theories of gravity.
- Sep 28 2017 gr-qc astro-ph.HE arXiv:1709.09660v3On August 14, 2017 at 10:30:43 UTC, the Advanced Virgo detector and the two Advanced LIGO detectors coherently observed a transient gravitational-wave signal produced by the coalescence of two stellar mass black holes, with a false-alarm-rate of $\lesssim$ 1 in 27000 years. The signal was observed with a three-detector network matched-filter signal-to-noise ratio of 18. The inferred masses of the initial black holes are $30.5_{-3.0}^{+5.7}$ Msun and $25.3_{-4.2}^{+2.8}$ Msun (at the 90% credible level). The luminosity distance of the source is $540_{-210}^{+130}~\mathrm{Mpc}$, corresponding to a redshift of $z=0.11_{-0.04}^{+0.03}$. A network of three detectors improves the sky localization of the source, reducing the area of the 90% credible region from 1160 deg$^2$ using only the two LIGO detectors to 60 deg$^2$ using all three detectors. For the first time, we can test the nature of gravitational wave polarizations from the antenna response of the LIGO-Virgo network, thus enabling a new class of phenomenological tests of gravity.
- Jul 11 2017 gr-qc astro-ph.IM arXiv:1707.02667v2We report on an all-sky search for periodic gravitational waves in the frequency band 20-475 Hz and with a frequency time derivative in the range of [-1.0, +0.1]e-8 Hz/s. Such a signal could be produced by a nearby spinning and slightly non-axisymmetric isolated neutron star in our galaxy. This search uses the data from Advanced LIGO's first observational run, O1. No periodic gravitational wave signals were observed, and upper limits were placed on their strengths. The lowest upper limits on worst-case (linearly polarized) strain amplitude h0 are 4e-25 near 170 Hz. For a circularly polarized source (most favorable orientation), the smallest upper limits obtained are 1.5e-25. These upper limits refer to all sky locations and the entire range of frequency derivative values. For a population-averaged ensemble of sky locations and stellar orientations, the lowest upper limits obtained for the strain amplitude are 2.5e-25.
- Jul 11 2017 gr-qc arXiv:1707.02669v2We report results of a deep all-sky search for periodic gravitational waves from isolated neutron stars in data from the first Advanced LIGO observing run. This search investigates the low frequency range of Advanced LIGO data, between 20 and 100 Hz, much of which was not explored in initial LIGO. The search was made possible by the computing power provided by the volunteers of the Einstein@Home project. We find no significant signal candidate and set the most stringent upper limits to date on the amplitude of gravitational wave signals from the target population, corresponding to a sensitivity depth of 48.7 [1/$\sqrt{{\textrm{Hz}}}$]. At the frequency of best strain sensitivity, near 100 Hz, we set 90% confidence upper limits of $1.8 \times 10^{-25}$. At the low end of our frequency range, 20 Hz, we achieve upper limits of $3.9 \times 10^{-24}$. At 55 Hz we can exclude sources with ellipticities greater than $10^{-5}$ within 100 pc of Earth with fiducial value of the principal moment of inertia of $10^{38} \textrm{kg m}^2$.
- Jul 05 2017 gr-qc astro-ph.HE arXiv:1707.00712v2The space based interferometer LISA will be capable of detecting the gravitational waves emitted by stellar mass black holes or neutron stars slowly inspiralling into the supermassive black holes found in the centre of most galaxies. The gravitational wave signal from such an extreme mass ratio inspiral (EMRI) event will provide a unique opportunity to test whether the spacetime metric around the central black hole is well described by the Kerr solution. In this paper a well studied model for EMRIs around Kerr black holes is extended to a family of parametrically deformed bumpy black holes which preserve the basic symmetries of the Kerr metric. The new EMRI model is then used to quantify the constraints that LISA observations of EMRIs may be able to place on the deviations, or bumps, on the Kerr metric.
- Extreme mass ratio in-spirals (EMRIs) are candidate events for gravitational wave detection in the millihertz range (by detectors like LISA and eLISA). These events involve a stellar-mass black hole, or a similar compact object, descending in the gravitational field of a supermassive black hole, eventually merging with it. Properties of the in-spiralling trajectory away from resonance are well known and have been studied extensively, however little is known about the behaviour of these binary systems at resonance, when the radial and lateral frequencies of the orbit become commensurate. We describe the two existing models, the instantaneous frequency approach used by Gair, Bender, and Yunes, and the standard two timescales approach implemented by Flanagan and Hinderer. In both cases, the exact treatment depends on the modelling of the gravitational self-force, which is currently not available. We extend the results in Gair, Bender and Yunes to higher order in the on-resonance flux modification, and argue that the instantaneous frequency approach is also a valid treatment of the resonance problem. The non-linear differential equations which arise in treating resonances are interesting from a mathematical view point. We present our algorithm for perturbative solutions and the results to third order in the infinitesimal parameter, and discuss the scope of this approach.
- Jun 13 2017 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1706.03119v3We present the results of a semicoherent search for continuous gravitational waves from the low-mass X-ray binary Scorpius X-1, using data from the first Advanced LIGO observing run. The search method uses details of the modelled, parametrized continuous signal to combine coherently data separated by less than a specified coherence time, which can be adjusted to trade off sensitivity against computational cost. A search was conducted over the frequency range from 25 Hz to 2000 Hz, spanning the current observationally-constrained range of the binary orbital parameters. No significant detection candidates were found, and frequency-dependent upper limits were set using a combination of sensitivity estimates and simulated signal injections. The most stringent upper limit was set at 175 Hz, with comparable limits set across the most sensitive frequency range from 100 Hz to 200 Hz. At this frequency, the 95 pct upper limit on signal amplitude h0 is 2.3e-25 marginalized over the unknown inclination angle of the neutron star's spin, and 8.03e-26 assuming the best orientation (which results in circularly polarized gravitational waves). These limits are a factor of 3-4 stronger than those set by other analyses of the same data, and a factor of about 7 stronger than the best upper limits set using initial LIGO data. In the vicinity of 100 Hz, the limits are a factor of between 1.2 and 3.5 above the predictions of the torque balance model, depending on inclination angle, if the most likely inclination angle of 44 degrees is assumed, they are within a factor of 1.7.
- Jun 07 2017 gr-qc astro-ph.HE arXiv:1706.01812v1We describe the observation of GW170104, a gravitational-wave signal produced by the coalescence of a pair of stellar-mass black holes. The signal was measured on January 4, 2017 at 10:11:58.6 UTC by the twin advanced detectors of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory during their second observing run, with a network signal-to-noise ratio of 13 and a false alarm rate less than 1 in 70,000 years. The inferred component black hole masses are $31.2^{+8.4}_{-6.0}\,M_\odot$ and $19.4^{+5.3}_{-5.9}\,M_\odot$ (at the 90% credible level). The black hole spins are best constrained through measurement of the effective inspiral spin parameter, a mass-weighted combination of the spin components perpendicular to the orbital plane, $\chi_\mathrm{eff} = -0.12^{+0.21}_{-0.30}.$ This result implies that spin configurations with both component spins positively aligned with the orbital angular momentum are disfavored. The source luminosity distance is $880^{+450}_{-390}~\mathrm{Mpc}$ corresponding to a redshift of $z = 0.18^{+0.08}_{-0.07}$. We constrain the magnitude of modifications to the gravitational-wave dispersion relation and perform null tests of general relativity. Assuming that gravitons are dispersed in vacuum like massive particles, we bound the graviton mass to $m_g \le 7.7 \times 10^{-23}~\mathrm{eV}/c^2$. In all cases, we find that GW170104 is consistent with general relativity.
- May 12 2017 gr-qc astro-ph.HE arXiv:1705.04259v2The extreme-mass-ratio inspirals (EMRIs) of stellar-mass compact objects into massive black holes are an important class of source for the future space-based gravitational-wave detector LISA. Detecting signals from EMRIs will require waveform models that are both accurate and computationally efficient. In this paper, we present the latest implementation of an augmented analytic kludge (AAK) model, publicly available at github.com/alvincjk/EMRI_Kludge_Suite as part of an EMRI waveform software suite. This version of the AAK model has improved accuracy compared to its predecessors, with two-month waveform overlaps against a more accurate fiducial model exceeding 0.97 for a generic range of sources; it also generates waveforms 5-15 times faster than the fiducial model. The AAK model is well suited for scoping out data analysis issues in the upcoming round of mock LISA data challenges. A simple analytic argument shows that it might even be viable for detecting EMRIs with LISA through a semi-coherent template bank method, while the use of the original analytic kludge in the same approach will result in around 90% fewer detections.
- Apr 18 2017 gr-qc arXiv:1704.04628v4During their first observational run, the two Advanced LIGO detectors attained an unprecedented sensitivity, resulting in the first direct detections of gravitational-wave signals and GW151226, produced by stellar-mass binary black hole systems. This paper reports on an all-sky search for gravitational waves (GWs) from merging intermediate mass black hole binaries (IMBHBs). The combined results from two independent search techniques were used in this study: the first employs a matched-filter algorithm that uses a bank of filters covering the GW signal parameter space, while the second is a generic search for GW transients (bursts). No GWs from IMBHBs were detected, therefore, we constrain the rate of several classes of IMBHB mergers. The most stringent limit is obtained for black holes of individual mass $100\,M_\odot$, with spins aligned with the binary orbital angular momentum. For such systems, the merger rate is constrained to be less than $0.93~\mathrm{Gpc^{-3}\,yr}^{-1}$ in comoving units at the $90\%$ confidence level, an improvement of nearly 2 orders of magnitude over previous upper limits.
- Apr 13 2017 gr-qc arXiv:1704.03719v3Results are presented from a semi-coherent search for continuous gravitational waves from the brightest low-mass X-ray binary, Scorpius X-1, using data collected during the first Advanced LIGO observing run (O1). The search combines a frequency domain matched filter (Bessel-weighted $\mathcal{F}$-statistic) with a hidden Markov model to track wandering of the neutron star spin frequency. No evidence of gravitational waves is found in the frequency range 60-650 Hz. Frequentist 95% confidence strain upper limits, $h_0^{95\%} = 4.0\times10^{-25}$, $8.3\times10^{-25}$, and $3.0\times10^{-25}$ for electromagnetically restricted source orientation, unknown polarization, and circular polarization, respectively, are reported at 106 Hz. They are $\leq 10$ times higher than the theoretical torque-balance limit at 106 Hz.
- Apr 04 2017 astro-ph.GA gr-qc arXiv:1704.00009v1One of the key astrophysical sources for the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) are the inspirals of stellar-origin compact objects into massive black holes in the centres of galaxies. These extreme-mass-ratio inspirals (EMRIs) have great potential for astrophysics, cosmology and fundamental physics. In this paper we describe the likely numbers and properties of EMRI events that LISA will observe. We present the first results computed for the 2.5 Gm interferometer that was the new baseline mission submitted in January 2017 in response to the ESA L3 mission call. In addition, we attempt to quantify the astrophysical uncertainties in EMRI event rate estimates by considering a range of different models for the astrophysical population. We present both likely event rates and estimates for the precision with which the parameters of the observed sources could be measured. We finish by discussing the implications of these results for science using EMRIs.
- The space-based Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) will be able to observe the gravitational-wave signals from systems comprised of a massive black hole and a stellar-mass compact object. These systems are known as extreme-mass-ratio inspirals (EMRIs) and are expected to complete $\sim 10^4$-$10^5$ cycles in band, thus allowing exquisite measurements of their parameters. In this work, we attempt to quantify the astrophysical uncertainties affecting the predictions for the number of EMRIs detectable by LISA, and find that competing astrophysical assumptions produce a variance of about three orders of magnitude in the expected intrinsic EMRI rate. However, we find that irrespective of the astrophysical model, at least a few EMRIs per year should be detectable by the LISA mission, with up to a few thousands per year under the most optimistic astrophysical assumptions. We also investigate the precision with which LISA will be able to extract the parameters of these sources. We find that typical fractional statistical errors with which the intrinsic parameters (redshifted masses, massive black hole spin and orbital eccentricity) can be recovered are $\sim 10^{-6}$-$10^{-4}$. Luminosity distance (which is required to infer true masses) is inferred to about $10\%$ precision and sky position is localized to a few square degrees, while tests of the multipolar structure of the Kerr metric can be performed to percent-level precision or better.
- Feb 21 2017 gr-qc astro-ph.HE arXiv:1702.05481v1Extreme mass ratio inspirals (EMRIs) occur when a compact object orbits a much larger one, like a solar-mass black hole around a supermassive black hole. The orbit has 3 frequencies which evolve through the inspiral. If the orbital radial frequency and polar frequency become commensurate, the system passes through a transient resonance. Evolving through resonance causes a jump in the evolution of the orbital parameters. We study these jumps and their impact on EMRI gravitational-wave detection. Jumps are smaller for lower eccentricity orbits; since most EMRIs have small eccentricities when passing through resonances, we expect that the impact on detection will be small. Neglecting the effects of transient resonances leads to a loss of ~4% of detectable signals for an astrophysically motivated population of EMRIs.
- Jan 27 2017 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1701.07709v5We present the result of searches for gravitational waves from 200 pulsars using data from the first observing run of the Advanced LIGO detectors. We find no significant evidence for a gravitational-wave signal from any of these pulsars, but we are able to set the most constraining upper limits yet on their gravitational-wave amplitudes and ellipticities. For eight of these pulsars, our upper limits give bounds that are improvements over the indirect spin-down limit values. For another 32, we are within a factor of 10 of the spin-down limit, and it is likely that some of these will be reachable in future runs of the advanced detector. Taken as a whole, these new results improve on previous limits by more than a factor of two.
- We employ gravitational-wave radiometry to map the gravitational waves stochastic background expected from a variety of contributing mechanisms and test the assumption of isotropy using data from Advanced LIGO's first observing run. We also search for persistent gravitational waves from point sources with only minimal assumptions over the 20 - 1726 Hz frequency band. Finding no evidence of gravitational waves from either point sources or a stochastic background, we set limits at 90% confidence. For broadband point sources, we report upper limits on the gravitational wave energy flux per unit frequency in the range $F_{\alpha,\Theta}(f) < (0.1 - 56) \times 10^{-8}$ erg cm$^{-2}$ s$^{-1}$ Hz$^{-1}$ (f/25 Hz)$^{\alpha-1}$ depending on the sky location $\Theta$ and the spectral power index $\alpha$. For extended sources, we report upper limits on the fractional gravitational wave energy density required to close the Universe of $\Omega(f,\Theta) < (0.39-7.6) \times 10^{-8}$ sr$^{-1}$ (f/25 Hz)$^\alpha$ depending on $\Theta$ and $\alpha$. Directed searches for narrowband gravitational waves from astrophysically interesting objects (Scorpius X-1, Supernova 1987 A, and the Galactic Center) yield median frequency-dependent limits on strain amplitude of $h_0 <$ (6.7, 5.5, and 7.0) $\times 10^{-25}$ respectively, at the most sensitive detector frequencies between 130 - 175 Hz. This represents a mean improvement of a factor of 2 across the band compared to previous searches of this kind for these sky locations, considering the different quantities of strain constrained in each case.
- A wide variety of astrophysical and cosmological sources are expected to contribute to a stochastic gravitational-wave background. Following the observations of GW150914 and GW151226, the rate and mass of coalescing binary black holes appear to be greater than many previous expectations. As a result, the stochastic background from unresolved compact binary coalescences is expected to be particularly loud. We perform a search for the isotropic stochastic gravitational-wave background using data from Advanced LIGO's first observing run. The data display no evidence of a stochastic gravitational-wave signal. We constrain the dimensionless energy density of gravitational waves to be $\Omega_0<1.7\times 10^{-7}$ with 95% confidence, assuming a flat energy density spectrum in the most sensitive part of the LIGO band (20-86 Hz). This is a factor of ~33 times more sensitive than previous measurements. We also constrain arbitrary power-law spectra. Finally, we investigate the implications of this search for the background of binary black holes using an astrophysical model for the background.
- Nov 24 2016 gr-qc astro-ph.HE arXiv:1611.07531v2Parameter estimates of GW150914 were obtained using Bayesian inference, based on three semi-analytic waveform models for binary black hole coalescences. These waveform models differ from each other in their treatment of black hole spins, and all three models make some simplifying assumptions, notably to neglect sub-dominant waveform harmonic modes and orbital eccentricity. Furthermore, while the models are calibrated to agree with waveforms obtained by full numerical solutions of Einstein's equations, any such calibration is accurate only to some non-zero tolerance and is limited by the accuracy of the underlying phenomenology, availability, quality, and parameter-space coverage of numerical simulations. This paper complements the original analyses of GW150914 with an investigation of the effects of possible systematic errors in the waveform models on estimates of its source parameters. To test for systematic errors we repeat the original Bayesian analyses on mock signals from numerical simulations of a series of binary configurations with parameters similar to those found for GW150914. Overall, we find no evidence for a systematic bias relative to the statistical error of the original parameter recovery of GW150914 due to modeling approximations or modeling inaccuracies. However, parameter biases are found to occur for some configurations disfavored by the data of GW150914: for binaries inclined edge-on to the detector over a small range of choices of polarization angles, and also for eccentricities greater than $\sim$0.05. For signals with higher signal-to-noise ratio than GW150914, or in other regions of the binary parameter space (lower masses, larger mass ratios, or higher spins), we expect that systematic errors in current waveform models may impact gravitational-wave measurements, making more accurate models desirable for future observations.
- Nov 24 2016 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1611.07947v3We present the results of the search for gravitational waves (GWs) associated with $\gamma$-ray bursts detected during the first observing run of the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). We find no evidence of a GW signal for any of the 41 $\gamma$-ray bursts for which LIGO data are available with sufficient duration. For all $\gamma$-ray bursts, we place lower bounds on the distance to the source using the optimistic assumption that GWs with an energy of $10^{-2}M_\odot c^2$ were emitted within the $16$-$500\,$Hz band, and we find a median 90% confidence limit of 71$\,$Mpc at 150$\,$Hz. For the subset of 19 short/hard $\gamma$-ray bursts, we place lower bounds on distance with a median 90% confidence limit of 90$\,$Mpc for binary neutron star (BNS) coalescences, and 150 and 139$\,$Mpc for neutron star-black hole coalescences with spins aligned to the orbital angular momentum and in a generic configuration, respectively. These are the highest distance limits ever achieved by GW searches. We also discuss in detail the results of the search for GWs associated with GRB 150906B, an event that was localized by the InterPlanetary Network near the local galaxy NGC 3313, which is at a luminosity distance of 54$\,$Mpc ($z=0.0124$). Assuming the $\gamma$-ray emission is beamed with a jet half-opening angle $\leq 30^{\circ}$, we exclude a BNS and a neutron star-black hole in NGC 3313 as the progenitor of this event with confidence $>99$%. Further, we exclude such progenitors up to a distance of 102$\,$Mpc and 170$\,$Mpc, respectively.
- Nov 10 2016 gr-qc astro-ph.HE arXiv:1611.02972v1We present the results from an all-sky search for short-duration gravitational waves in the data of the first run of the Advanced LIGO detectors between September 2015 and January 2016. The search algorithms use minimal assumptions on the signal morphology, so they are sensitive to a wide range of sources emitting gravitational waves. The analyses target transient signals with duration ranging from milliseconds to seconds over the frequency band of 32 to 4096 Hz. The first observed gravitational-wave event, GW150914, has been detected with high confidence in this search; other known gravitational-wave events fall below the search's sensitivity. Besides GW150914, all of the search results are consistent with the expected rate of accidental noise coincidences. Finally, we estimate rate-density limits for a broad range of non-BBH transient gravitational-wave sources as a function of their gravitational radiation emission energy and their characteristic frequency. These rate-density upper-limits are stricter than those previously published by an order-of-magnitude.
- Sep 01 2016 gr-qc astro-ph.HE arXiv:1608.08951v2The inspiral of stellar-mass compact objects, like neutron stars or stellar-mass black holes, into supermassive black holes provides a wealth of information about the strong gravitational-field regime via the emission of gravitational waves. In order to detect and analyse these signals, accurate waveform templates which include the effects of the compact object's gravitational self-force are required. For computational efficiency, adiabatic templates are often used. These accurately reproduce orbit-averaged trajectories arising from the first-order self-force, but neglect other effects, such as transient resonances, where the radial and poloidal fundamental frequencies become commensurate. During such resonances the flux of gravitational waves can be diminished or enhanced, leading to a shift in the compact object's trajectory and the phase of the waveform. We present an evolution scheme for studying the effects of transient resonances and apply this to an astrophysically motivated population. We find that a large proportion of systems encounter a low-order resonance in the later stages of inspiral; however, the resulting effect on signal-to-noise recovery is small as a consequence of the low eccentricity of the inspirals. Neglecting the effects of transient resonances leads to a loss of 4% of detectable signals.
- Aug 08 2016 gr-qc arXiv:1608.01940v4The first direct gravitational-wave detection was made by the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory on September 14, 2015. The GW150914 signal was strong enough to be apparent, without using any waveform model, in the filtered detector strain data. Here, features of the signal visible in the data are analyzed using concepts from Newtonian physics and general relativity, accessible to anyone with a general physics background. The simple analysis presented here is consistent with the fully general-relativistic analyses published elsewhere,in showing that the signal was produced by the inspiral and subsequent merger of two black holes. The black holes were each of approximately 35 Msun, still orbited each other as close as ~350 km apart, and subsequently merged to form a single black hole. Similar reasoning, directly from the data, is used to roughly estimate how far these black holes were from the Earth, and the energy that they radiated in gravitational waves.
- We report here the non-detection of gravitational waves from the merger of binary neutron star systems and neutron-star--black-hole systems during the first observing run of Advanced LIGO. In particular we searched for gravitational wave signals from binary neutron star systems with component masses $\in [1,3] M_{\odot}$ and component dimensionless spins $< 0.05$. We also searched for neutron-star--black-hole systems with the same neutron star parameters, black hole mass $\in [2,99] M_{\odot}$ and no restriction on the black hole spin magnitude. We assess the sensitivity of the two LIGO detectors to these systems, and find that they could have detected the merger of binary neutron star systems with component mass distributions of $1.35\pm0.13 M_{\odot}$ at a volume-weighted average distance of $\sim$ 70Mpc, and for neutron-star--black-hole systems with neutron star masses of $1.4M_\odot$ and black hole masses of at least $5M_\odot$, a volume-weighted average distance of at least $\sim$ 110Mpc. From this we constrain with 90% confidence the merger rate to be less than 12,600 Gpc$^{-3}$yr$^{-1}$ for binary-neutron star systems and less than 3,600 Gpc$^{-3}$yr$^{-1}$ for neutron-star--black-hole systems. We find that if no detection of neutron-star binary mergers is made in the next two Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo observing runs we would place significant constraints on the merger rates. Finally, assuming a rate of $10^{+20}_{-7}$Gpc$^{-3}$yr$^{-1}$ short gamma ray bursts beamed towards the Earth and assuming that all short gamma-ray bursts have binary-neutron-star (neutron-star--black-hole) progenitors we can use our 90% confidence rate upper limits to constrain the beaming angle of the gamma-ray burst to be greater than ${2.3^{+1.7}_{-1.1}}^{\circ}$ (${4.3^{+3.1}_{-1.9}}^{\circ}$).
- Jul 11 2016 gr-qc astro-ph.HE arXiv:1607.02216v1We describe a directed search for continuous gravitational waves in data from the sixth LIGO science run. The target was the nearby globular cluster NGC 6544 at a distance of 2.7 kpc. The search covered a broad band of frequencies along with first and second frequency derivatives for a fixed sky position. The search coherently integrated data from the two LIGO interferometers over a time span of 9.2 days using the matched-filtering F-statistic. We found no gravitational-wave signals and set 95% confidence upper limits as stringent as 6.0 X 10^-25 on intrinsic strain and 8.5 X 10^-6 on fiducial ellipticity. These values beat the indirect limits from energy conservation for stars with characteristic spindown ages older than 300 years and are within the range of theoretical predictions for possible neutron-star ellipticities. An important feature of this search was use of a barycentric resampling algorithm which substantially reduced computational cost; this method will be used extensively in searches of Advanced LIGO and Virgo detector data.
- We present two methods for determining the significance of a stochastic gravitational-wave (GW) background affecting a pulsar-timing array, where detection is based on evidence for quadrupolar spatial correlations between pulsars. Rather than constructing noise simulations, we eliminate the GWB spatial correlations in the true datasets to assess detection significance with all real data features intact. In our first method, we perform random phase shifts in the signal-model basis functions. This phase shifting eliminates signal phase coherence between pulsars, while keeping the statistical properties of the pulsar timing residuals intact. We then explore a method to null correlations between pulsars by using a "scrambled" overlap-reduction function in the signal model for the array. This scrambled function is orthogonal to what we expect of a real GW background signal. We demonstrate the efficacy of these methods using Bayesian model selection on a set of simulated datasets that contain a stochastic GW signal, timing noise, undiagnosed glitches, and uncertainties in the Solar system ephemeris. Finally, we introduce an overarching formalism under which these two techniques are naturally linked. These methods are immediately applicable to all current pulsar-timing array datasets, and should become standard tools for future analyses.
- Jun 16 2016 gr-qc astro-ph.CO arXiv:1606.04856v3The first observational run of the Advanced LIGO detectors, from September 12, 2015 to January 19, 2016, saw the first detections of gravitational waves from binary black hole mergers. In this paper we present full results from a search for binary black hole merger signals with total masses up to $100 M_\odot$ and detailed implications from our observations of these systems. Our search, based on general-relativistic models of gravitational wave signals from binary black hole systems, unambiguously identified two signals, GW150914 and GW151226, with a significance of greater than $5\sigma$ over the observing period. It also identified a third possible signal, LVT151012, with substantially lower significance, and with an 87% probability of being of astrophysical origin. We provide detailed estimates of the parameters of the observed systems. Both GW150914 and GW151226 provide an unprecedented opportunity to study the two-body motion of a compact-object binary in the large velocity, highly nonlinear regime. We do not observe any deviations from general relativity, and place improved empirical bounds on several high-order post-Newtonian coefficients. From our observations we infer stellar-mass binary black hole merger rates lying in the range $9-240 \mathrm{Gpc}^{-3} \mathrm{yr}^{-1}$. These observations are beginning to inform astrophysical predictions of binary black hole formation rates, and indicate that future observing runs of the Advanced detector network will yield many more gravitational wave detections.
- We compare GW150914 directly to simulations of coalescing binary black holes in full general relativity, accounting for all the spin-weighted quadrupolar modes, and separately accounting for all the quadrupolar and octopolar modes. Consistent with the posterior distributions reported in LVC_PE[1] (at 90% confidence), we find the data are compatible with a wide range of nonprecessing and precessing simulations. Followup simulations performed using previously-estimated binary parameters most resemble the data. Comparisons including only the quadrupolar modes constrain the total redshifted mass Mz ∈[64 - 82M_⊙], mass ratio q = m2/m1 ∈[0.6,1], and effective aligned spin \chi_eff ∈[-0.3, 0.2], where \chi_eff = (S1/m1 + S2/m2) ⋅\hatL /M. Including both quadrupolar and octopolar modes, we find the mass ratio is even more tightly constrained. Simulations with extreme mass ratios and effective spins are highly inconsistent with the data, at any mass. Several nonprecessing and precessing simulations with similar mass ratio and \chi_eff are consistent with the data. Though correlated, the components' spins (both in magnitude and directions) are not significantly constrained by the data. For nonprecessing binaries, interpolating between simulations, we reconstruct a posterior distribution consistent with previous results. The final black hole's redshifted mass is consistent with Mf,z between 64.0 - 73.5M_⊙and the final black hole's dimensionless spin parameter is consistent with af = 0.62 - 0.73. As our approach invokes no intermediate approximations to general relativity and can strongly reject binaries whose radiation is inconsistent with the data, our analysis provides a valuable complement to LVC_PE[1].
- Jun 06 2016 gr-qc astro-ph.HE arXiv:1606.01210v1This paper presents updated estimates of source parameters for GW150914, a binary black-hole coalescence event detected by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) on September 14, 2015 [1]. Reference presented parameter estimation [2] of the source using a 13-dimensional, phenomenological precessing-spin model (precessing IMRPhenom) and a 11-dimensional nonprecessing effective-one-body (EOB) model calibrated to numerical-relativity simulations, which forces spin alignment (nonprecessing EOBNR). Here we present new results that include a 15-dimensional precessing-spin waveform model (precessing EOBNR) developed within the EOB formalism. We find good agreement with the parameters estimated previously [2], and we quote updated component masses of $35^{+5}_{-3}\mathrm{M}_\odot$ and $30^{+3}_{-4}\mathrm{M}_\odot$ (where errors correspond to 90% symmetric credible intervals). We also present slightly tighter constraints on the dimensionless spin magnitudes of the two black holes, with a primary spin estimate $0.65$ and a secondary spin estimate $0.75$ at 90% probability. Reference [2] estimated the systematic parameter-extraction errors due to waveform-model uncertainty by combining the posterior probability densities of precessing IMRPhenom and nonprecessing EOBNR. Here we find that the two precessing-spin models are in closer agreement, suggesting that these systematic errors are smaller than previously quoted.
- May 12 2016 gr-qc astro-ph.IM arXiv:1605.03233v2We report on a comprehensive all-sky search for periodic gravitational waves in the frequency band 100-1500 Hz and with a frequency time derivative in the range of $[-1.18, +1.00]\times 10^{-8}$ Hz/s. Such a signal could be produced by a nearby spinning and slightly non-axisymmetric isolated neutron star in our galaxy. This search uses the data from the Initial LIGO sixth science run and covers a larger parameter space with respect to any past search. A Loosely Coherent detection pipeline was applied to follow up weak outliers in both Gaussian (95% recovery rate) and non-Gaussian (75% recovery rate) bands. No gravitational wave signals were observed, and upper limits were placed on their strength. Our smallest upper limit on worst-case (linearly polarized) strain amplitude $h_0$ is ${9.7}\times 10^{-25}$ near 169 Hz, while at the high end of our frequency range we achieve a worst-case upper limit of ${5.5}\times 10^{-24}$. Both cases refer to all sky locations and entire range of frequency derivative values.
- May 09 2016 gr-qc astro-ph.HE arXiv:1605.01785v2We present results from a search for gravitational-wave bursts coincident with a set of two core-collapse supernovae observed between 2007 and 2011. We employ data from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), the Virgo gravitational-wave observatory, and the GEO 600 gravitational-wave observatory. The targeted core-collapse supernovae were selected on the basis of (1) proximity (within approximately 15 Mpc), (2) tightness of observational constraints on the time of core collapse that defines the gravitational-wave search window, and (3) coincident operation of at least two interferometers at the time of core collapse. We find no plausible gravitational-wave candidates. We present the probability of detecting signals from both astrophysically well-motivated and more speculative gravitational-wave emission mechanisms as a function of distance from Earth, and discuss the implications for the detection of gravitational waves from core-collapse supernovae by the upgraded Advanced LIGO and Virgo detectors.
- Apr 28 2016 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1604.07864v3This Supplement provides supporting material for arXiv:1602.08492 . We briefly summarize past electromagnetic (EM) follow-up efforts as well as the organization and policy of the current EM follow-up program. We compare the four probability sky maps produced for the gravitational-wave transient GW150914, and provide additional details of the EM follow-up observations that were performed in the different bands.
- Mar 01 2016 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1602.08492v4A gravitational-wave (GW) transient was identified in data recorded by the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors on 2015 September 14. The event, initially designated G184098 and later given the name GW150914, is described in detail elsewhere. By prior arrangement, preliminary estimates of the time, significance, and sky location of the event were shared with 63 teams of observers covering radio, optical, near-infrared, X-ray, and gamma-ray wavelengths with ground- and space-based facilities. In this Letter we describe the low-latency analysis of the GW data and present the sky localization of the first observed compact binary merger. We summarize the follow-up observations reported by 25 teams via private Gamma-ray Coordinates Network circulars, giving an overview of the participating facilities, the GW sky localization coverage, the timeline and depth of the observations. As this event turned out to be a binary black hole merger, there is little expectation of a detectable electromagnetic (EM) signature. Nevertheless, this first broadband campaign to search for a counterpart of an Advanced LIGO source represents a milestone and highlights the broad capabilities of the transient astronomy community and the observing strategies that have been developed to pursue neutron star binary merger events. Detailed investigations of the EM data and results of the EM follow-up campaign are being disseminated in papers by the individual teams.
- We analyse the stochastic properties of the 49 pulsars that comprise the first International Pulsar Timing Array (IPTA) data release. We use Bayesian methodology, performing model selection to determine the optimal description of the stochastic signals present in each pulsar. In addition to spin-noise and dispersion-measure (DM) variations, these models can include timing noise unique to a single observing system, or frequency band. We show the improved radio-frequency coverage and presence of overlapping data from different observing systems in the IPTA data set enables us to separate both system and band-dependent effects with much greater efficacy than in the individual PTA data sets. For example, we show that PSR J1643$-$1224 has, in addition to DM variations, significant band-dependent noise that is coherent between PTAs which we interpret as coming from time-variable scattering or refraction in the ionised interstellar medium. Failing to model these different contributions appropriately can dramatically alter the astrophysical interpretation of the stochastic signals observed in the residuals. In some cases, the spectral exponent of the spin noise signal can vary from 1.6 to 4 depending upon the model, which has direct implications for the long-term sensitivity of the pulsar to a stochastic gravitational-wave (GW) background. By using a more appropriate model, however, we can greatly improve a pulsar's sensitivity to GWs. For example, including system and band-dependent signals in the PSR J0437$-$4715 data set improves the upper limit on a fiducial GW background by $\sim 60\%$ compared to a model that includes DM variations and spin-noise only.
- In Advanced LIGO, detection and astrophysical source parameter estimation of the binary black hole merger GW150914 requires a calibrated estimate of the gravitational-wave strain sensed by the detectors. Producing an estimate from each detector's differential arm length control loop readout signals requires applying time domain filters, which are designed from a frequency domain model of the detector's gravitational-wave response. The gravitational-wave response model is determined by the detector's opto-mechanical response and the properties of its feedback control system. The measurements used to validate the model and characterize its uncertainty are derived primarily from a dedicated photon radiation pressure actuator, with cross-checks provided by optical and radio frequency references. We describe how the gravitational-wave readout signal is calibrated into equivalent gravitational-wave-induced strain and how the statistical uncertainties and systematic errors are assessed. Detector data collected over 38 calendar days, from September 12 to October 20, 2015, contain the event GW150914 and approximately 16 of coincident data used to estimate the event false alarm probability. The calibration uncertainty is less than 10% in magnitude and 10 degrees in phase across the relevant frequency band 20 Hz to 1 kHz.
- Feb 12 2016 gr-qc astro-ph.HE arXiv:1602.03840v2On September 14, 2015, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detected a gravitational-wave transient (GW150914); we characterize the properties of the source and its parameters. The data around the time of the event were analyzed coherently across the LIGO network using a suite of accurate waveform models that describe gravitational waves from a compact binary system in general relativity. GW150914 was produced by a nearly equal mass binary black hole of $36^{+5}_{-4} M_\odot$ and $29^{+4}_{-4} M_\odot$; for each parameter we report the median value and the range of the 90% credible interval. The dimensionless spin magnitude of the more massive black hole is bound to be $<0.7$ (at 90% probability). The luminosity distance to the source is $410^{+160}_{-180}$ Mpc, corresponding to a redshift $0.09^{+0.03}_{-0.04}$ assuming standard cosmology. The source location is constrained to an annulus section of $610$ deg$^2$, primarily in the southern hemisphere. The binary merges into a black hole of $62^{+4}_{-4} M_\odot$ and spin $0.67^{+0.05}_{-0.07}$. This black hole is significantly more massive than any other inferred from electromagnetic observations in the stellar-mass regime.
- On September 14, 2015 at 09:50:45 UTC the two detectors of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) simultaneously observed the binary black hole merger GW150914. We report the results of a matched-filter search using relativistic models of compact-object binaries that recovered GW150914 as the most significant event during the coincident observations between the two LIGO detectors from September 12 to October 20, 2015. GW150914 was observed with a matched filter signal-to-noise ratio of 24 and a false alarm rate estimated to be less than 1 event per 203 000 years, equivalent to a significance greater than 5.1 \sigma.
- Feb 12 2016 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1602.03842v3A transient gravitational-wave signal, GW150914, was identified in the twin Advanced LIGO detectors on September 14, 2015 at 09:50:45 UTC. To assess the implications of this discovery, the detectors remained in operation with unchanged configurations over a period of 39 d around the time of the signal. At the detection statistic threshold corresponding to that observed for GW150914, our search of the 16 days of simultaneous two-detector observational data is estimated to have a false alarm rate (FAR) of $< 4.9 \times 10^{-6} \, \mathrm{yr}^{-1}$, yielding a $p$-value for GW150914 of $< 2 \times 10^{-7}$. Parameter estimation followup on this trigger identifies its source as a binary black hole (BBH) merger with component masses $(m_1, m_2) = \left(36^{+5}_{-4},29^{+4}_{-4}\right) \, M_\odot$ at redshift $z = 0.09^{+0.03}_{-0.04}$ (median and 90\% credible range). Here we report on the constraints these observations place on the rate of BBH coalescences. Considering only GW150914, assuming that all BBHs in the Universe have the same masses and spins as this event, imposing a search FAR threshold of 1 per 100 years, and assuming that the BBH merger rate is constant in the comoving frame, we infer a 90% credible range of merger rates between $2$--$53 \, \mathrm{Gpc}^{-3} \mathrm{yr}^{-1}$ (comoving frame). Incorporating all search triggers that pass a much lower threshold while accounting for the uncertainty in the astrophysical origin of each trigger, we estimate a higher rate, ranging from $13$--$600 \, \mathrm{Gpc}^{-3} \mathrm{yr}^{-1}$ depending on assumptions about the BBH mass distribution. All together, our various rate estimates fall in the conservative range $2$--$600 \, \mathrm{Gpc}^{-3} \mathrm{yr}^{-1}$.
- Nov 19 2015 gr-qc astro-ph.HE arXiv:1511.05581v2We compare the science capabilities of different eLISA mission designs, including four-link (two-arm) and six-link (three-arm) configurations with different arm lengths, low-frequency noise sensitivities and mission durations. For each of these configurations we consider a few representative massive black hole formation scenarios. These scenarios are chosen to explore two physical mechanisms that greatly affect eLISA rates, namely (i) black hole seeding, and (ii) the delays between the merger of two galaxies and the merger of the black holes hosted by those galaxies. We assess the eLISA parameter estimation accuracy using a Fisher matrix analysis with spin-precessing, inspiral-only waveforms. We quantify the information present in the merger and ringdown by rescaling the inspiral-only Fisher matrix estimates using the signal-to-noise ratio from non-precessing inspiral-merger-ringdown phenomenological waveforms, and from a reduced set of precessing numerical relativity/post-Newtonian hybrid waveforms. We find that all of the eLISA configurations considered in our study should detect some massive black hole binaries. However, configurations with six links and better low-frequency noise will provide much more information on the origin of black holes at high redshifts and on their accretion history, and they may allow the identification of electromagnetic counterparts to massive black hole mergers.
- We present the results of a search for long-duration gravitational wave transients in two sets of data collected by the LIGO Hanford and LIGO Livingston detectors between November 5, 2005 and September 30, 2007, and July 7, 2009 and October 20, 2010, with a total observational time of 283.0 days and 132.9 days, respectively. The search targets gravitational wave transients of duration 10 - 500 s in a frequency band of 40 - 1000 Hz, with minimal assumptions about the signal waveform, polarization, source direction, or time of occurrence. All candidate triggers were consistent with the expected background; as a result we set 90% confidence upper limits on the rate of long-duration gravitational wave transients for different types of gravitational wave signals. For signals from black hole accretion disk instabilities, we set upper limits on the source rate density between $3.4 \times 10^{-5}$ - $9.4 \times 10^{-4}$ Mpc$^{-3}$ yr$^{-1}$ at 90% confidence. These are the first results from an all-sky search for unmodeled long-duration transient gravitational waves.
- Oct 22 2015 gr-qc astro-ph.HE arXiv:1510.06245v1The space-based gravitational-wave detector eLISA has been selected as the ESA L3 mission, and the mission design will be finalised by the end of this decade. To prepare for mission formulation over the next few years, several outstanding and urgent questions in data analysis will be addressed using mock data challenges, informed by instrument measurements from the LISA Pathfinder satellite launching at the end of 2015. These data challenges will require accurate and computationally affordable waveform models for anticipated sources such as the extreme-mass-ratio inspirals (EMRIs) of stellar-mass compact objects into massive black holes. Previous data challenges have made use of the well-known analytic EMRI waveforms of Barack and Cutler, which are extremely quick to generate but dephase relative to more accurate waveforms within hours, due to their mismatched radial, polar and azimuthal frequencies. In this paper, we describe an augmented Barack-Cutler model that uses a frequency map to the correct Kerr frequencies, along with updated evolution equations and a simple fit to a more accurate model. The augmented waveforms stay in phase for months and may be generated with virtually no additional computational cost.
- In this paper we present the results of the first low frequency all-sky search of continuous gravitational wave signals conducted on Virgo VSR2 and VSR4 data. The search covered the full sky, a frequency range between 20 Hz and 128 Hz with a range of spin-down between $-1.0 \times 10^{-10}$ Hz/s and $+1.5 \times 10^{-11}$ Hz/s, and was based on a hierarchical approach. The starting point was a set of short Fast Fourier Transforms (FFT), of length 8192 seconds, built from the calibrated strain data. Aggressive data cleaning, both in the time and frequency domains, has been done in order to remove, as much as possible, the effect of disturbances of instrumental origin. On each dataset a number of candidates has been selected, using the FrequencyHough transform in an incoherent step. Only coincident candidates among VSR2 and VSR4 have been examined in order to strongly reduce the false alarm probability, and the most significant candidates have been selected. The criteria we have used for candidate selection and for the coincidence step greatly reduce the harmful effect of large instrumental artifacts. Selected candidates have been subject to a follow-up by constructing a new set of longer FFTs followed by a further incoherent analysis. No evidence for continuous gravitational wave signals was found, therefore we have set a population-based joint VSR2-VSR4 90$\%$ confidence level upper limit on the dimensionless gravitational wave strain in the frequency range between 20 Hz and 128 Hz. This is the first all-sky search for continuous gravitational waves conducted at frequencies below 50 Hz. We set upper limits in the range between about $10^{-24}$ and $2\times 10^{-23}$ at most frequencies. Our upper limits on signal strain show an improvement of up to a factor of $\sim$2 with respect to the results of previous all-sky searches at frequencies below $80~\mathrm{Hz}$.
- Oct 14 2015 gr-qc astro-ph.HE arXiv:1510.03474v2We report results of a wideband search for periodic gravitational waves from isolated neutron stars within the Orion spur towards both the inner and outer regions of our Galaxy. As gravitational waves interact very weakly with matter, the search is unimpeded by dust and concentrations of stars. One search disk (A) is $6.87^\circ$ in diameter and centered on $20^\textrm{h}10^\textrm{m}54.71^\textrm{s}+33^\circ33'25.29"$, and the other (B) is $7.45^\circ$ in diameter and centered on $8^\textrm{h}35^\textrm{m}20.61^\textrm{s}-46^\circ49'25.151"$. We explored the frequency range of 50-1500 Hz and frequency derivative from $0$ to $-5\times 10^{-9}$ Hz/s. A multi-stage, loosely coherent search program allowed probing more deeply than before in these two regions, while increasing coherence length with every stage. Rigorous followup parameters have winnowed initial coincidence set to only 70 candidates, to be examined manually. None of those 70 candidates proved to be consistent with an isolated gravitational wave emitter, and 95% confidence level upper limits were placed on continuous-wave strain amplitudes. Near $169$ Hz we achieve our lowest 95% CL upper limit on worst-case linearly polarized strain amplitude $h_0$ of $6.3\times 10^{-25}$, while at the high end of our frequency range we achieve a worst-case upper limit of $3.4\times 10^{-24}$ for all polarizations and sky locations.
- Sep 15 2015 gr-qc astro-ph.IM arXiv:1509.04066v2Folding uncertainty in theoretical models into Bayesian parameter estimation is necessary in order to make reliable inferences. A general means of achieving this is by marginalizing over model uncertainty using a prior distribution constructed using Gaussian process regression (GPR). As an example, we apply this technique to the measurement of chirp mass using (simulated) gravitational-wave signals from binary black holes that could be observed using advanced-era gravitational-wave detectors. Unless properly accounted for, uncertainty in the gravitational-wave templates could be the dominant source of error in studies of these systems. We explain our approach in detail and provide proofs of various features of the method, including the limiting behavior for high signal-to-noise, where systematic model uncertainties dominate over noise errors. We find that the marginalized likelihood constructed via GPR offers a significant improvement in parameter estimation over the standard, uncorrected likelihood both in our simple one-dimensional study, and theoretically in general. We also examine the dependence of the method on the size of training set used in the GPR; on the form of covariance function adopted for the GPR, and on changes to the detector noise power spectral density.
- We have searched for continuous gravitational wave (CGW) signals produced by individually resolvable, circular supermassive black hole binaries (SMBHBs) in the latest EPTA dataset, which consists of ultra-precise timing data on 41 millisecond pulsars. We develop frequentist and Bayesian detection algorithms to search both for monochromatic and frequency-evolving systems. None of the adopted algorithms show evidence for the presence of such a CGW signal, indicating that the data are best described by pulsar and radiometer noise only. Depending on the adopted detection algorithm, the 95\% upper limit on the sky-averaged strain amplitude lies in the range $6\times 10^{-15}<A<1.5\times10^{-14}$ at $5{\rm nHz}<f<7{\rm nHz}$. This limit varies by a factor of five, depending on the assumed source position, and the most constraining limit is achieved towards the positions of the most sensitive pulsars in the timing array. The most robust upper limit -- obtained via a full Bayesian analysis searching simultaneously over the signal and pulsar noise on the subset of ours six best pulsars -- is $A\approx10^{-14}$. These limits, the most stringent to date at $f<10{\rm nHz}$, exclude the presence of sub-centiparsec binaries with chirp mass $\cal{M}_c>10^9$M$_\odot$ out to a distance of about 25Mpc, and with $\cal{M}_c>10^{10}$M$_\odot$ out to a distance of about 1Gpc ($z\approx0.2$). We show that state-of-the-art SMBHB population models predict $<1\%$ probability of detecting a CGW with the current EPTA dataset, consistent with the reported non-detection. We stress, however, that PTA limits on individual CGW have improved by almost an order of magnitude in the last five years. The continuing advances in pulsar timing data acquisition and analysis techniques will allow for strong astrophysical constraints on the population of nearby SMBHBs in the coming years.
- Jul 13 2015 gr-qc arXiv:1507.02998v1Accretion disks around black holes radiate a significant fraction of the rest mass of the accreting material in the form of thermal radiation from within a few gravitational radii of the black hole ($ r \lesssim 20 G M / c^{2}$). In addition, the accreting matter may also be illuminated by hard X-rays from the surrounding plasma which adds fluorescent transition lines to the emission. This radiation is emitted by matter moving along geodesics in the metric, therefore the strong Doppler and gravitational redshifts observed in the emission encode information about the strong gravitational field around the black hole. In this paper the possibility of using the X-ray emission as a strong field test of General Relativity is explored by calculating the spectra for both the transition line and thermal emission from a thin accretion disk in a series of parametrically deformed Kerr metrics. In addition the possibility of constraining a number of known black hole spacetimes in alternative theories of gravity is considered.
- The paucity of observed supermassive black hole binaries (SMBHBs) may imply that the gravitational wave background (GWB) from this population is anisotropic, rendering existing analyses sub-optimal. We present the first constraints on the angular distribution of a nanohertz stochastic GWB from circular, inspiral-driven SMBHBs using the $2015$ European Pulsar Timing Array data [Desvignes et al. (in prep.)]. Our analysis of the GWB in the $\sim 2 - 90$ nHz band shows consistency with isotropy, with the strain amplitude in $l>0$ spherical harmonic multipoles $\lesssim 40\%$ of the monopole value. We expect that these more general techniques will become standard tools to probe the angular distribution of source populations.
- Jun 30 2015 gr-qc arXiv:1506.08668v1We extend our previous work on applying CMB techniques to the mapping of gravitational-wave backgrounds to backgrounds which have non-GR polarisations. Our analysis and results are presented in the context of pulsar-timing array observations, but the overarching methods are general, and can be easily applied to LIGO or eLISA observations using appropriately modified response functions. Analytic expressions for the pulsar-timing response to gravitational waves with non-GR polarisation are given for each mode of a spin-weighted spherical-harmonic decomposition of the background, which permit the signal to be mapped across the sky to any desired resolution. We also derive the pulsar-timing overlap reduction functions for the various non-GR polarisations, finding analytic forms for anisotropic backgrounds with scalar-transverse ("breathing") and vector-longitudinal polarisations, and a semi-analytic form for scalar-longitudinal backgrounds. Our results indicate that pulsar-timing observations will be completely insensitive to scalar-transverse mode anisotropies in the polarisation amplitude beyond dipole, and anisotropies in the power beyond quadrupole. Analogously to our previous findings that pulsar-timing observations lack sensitivity to tensor-curl modes for a transverse-traceless tensor background, we also find insensitivity to vector-curl modes for a vector-longitudinal background.
- May 28 2015 gr-qc arXiv:1505.07179v1We extend the formalisms developed in Gair et al. and Cornish and van Haasteren to create maps of gravitational-wave backgrounds using a network of ground-based laser interferometers. We show that in contrast to pulsar timing arrays, which are insensitive to half of the gravitational-wave sky (the curl modes), a network of ground-based interferometers is sensitive to both the gradient and curl components of the background. The spatial separation of a network of interferometers, or of a single interferometer at different times during its rotational and orbital motion around the Sun, allows for recovery of both components. We derive expressions for the response functions of a laser interferometer in the small-antenna limit, and use these expressions to calculate the overlap reduction function for a pair of interferometers. We also construct maximum-likelihood estimates of the + and x-polarization modes of the gravitational-wave sky in terms of the response matrix for a network of ground-based interferometers, evaluated at discrete times during Earth's rotational and orbital motion around the Sun. We demonstrate the feasibility of this approach for some simple simulated backgrounds (a single point source and spatially-extended distributions having only grad or curl components), calculating maximum-likelihood sky maps and uncertainty maps based on the (pseudo)inverse of the response matrix. The distinction between this approach and standard methods for mapping gravitational-wave power is also discussed.
- May 26 2015 gr-qc astro-ph.HE arXiv:1505.06208v3The couplings between supermassive black-hole binaries and their environments within galactic nuclei have been well studied as part of the search for solutions to the final parsec problem. The scattering of stars by the binary or the interaction with a circumbinary disk may efficiently drive the system to sub-parsec separations, allowing the binary to enter a regime where the emission of gravitational waves can drive it to merger within a Hubble time. However, these interactions can also affect the orbital parameters of the binary. In particular, they may drive an increase in binary eccentricity which survives until the system's gravitational-wave signal enters the pulsar-timing array band. Therefore, if we can measure the eccentricity from observed signals, we can potentially deduce some of the properties of the binary environment. To this end, we build on previous techniques to present a general Bayesian pipeline with which we can detect and estimate the parameters of an eccentric supermassive black-hole binary system with pulsar-timing arrays. Additionally, we generalize the pulsar-timing array $\mathcal{F}_e$-statistic to eccentric systems, and show that both this statistic and the Bayesian pipeline are robust when studying circular or arbitrarily eccentric systems. We explore how eccentricity influences the detection prospects of single gravitational-wave sources, as well as the detection penalty incurred by employing a circular waveform template to search for eccentric signals, and conclude by identifying important avenues for future study.
- Apr 13 2015 gr-qc arXiv:1504.02767v2When using incorrect or inaccurate signal models to perform parameter estimation on a gravitational wave signal, biased parameter estimates will in general be obtained. For a single event this bias may be consistent with the posterior, but when considering a population of events this bias becomes evident as a sag below the expected diagonal line of the P-P plot showing the fraction of signals found within a certain significance level versus that significance level. It would be hoped that recently proposed techniques for accounting for model uncertainties in parameter estimation would, to some extent, alleviate this problem. Here we demonstrate that this is indeed the case. We derive an analytic approximation to the P-P plot obtained when using an incorrect signal model to perform parameter estimation. This approximation is valid in the limit of high signal-to-noise ratio and nearly correct waveform models. We show how the P-P plot changes if a Gaussian process likelihood that allows for model errors is used to analyse the data. We demonstrate analytically and using numerical simulations that the bias is always reduced in this way. These results provide a way to quantify bias in inference on populations and demonstrate the importance of utilising methods to mitigate this bias.
- Apr 07 2015 gr-qc arXiv:1504.00928v2We present a detailed analysis of the expected signal-to-noise ratios of supermassive black hole binaries on eccentric orbits observed by pulsar timing arrays. We derive several analytical relations that extend the results of Peters and Mathews [Phys. Rev. D 131, 435 (1963)] to quantify the impact of eccentricity in the detection of single resolvable binaries in the pulsar timing array band. We present ready-to-use expressions to compute the increase/loss in signal-to-noise ratio of eccentric single resolvable sources whose dominant harmonic is located in the low/high frequency sensitivity regime of pulsar timing arrays. Building upon the work of Phinney (arXiv:astro-ph/0108028) and Enoki and Nagashima [Prog. Theor. Phys. 117, 241 (2007)], we present an analytical framework that enables the construction of rapid spectra for a stochastic gravitational-wave background generated by a cosmological population of eccentric sources. We confirm previous findings which indicate that, relative to a population of quasicircular binaries, the strain of a stochastic, isotropic gravitational-wave background generated by a cosmological population of eccentric binaries will be suppressed in the frequency band of pulsar timing arrays. We quantify this effect in terms of signal-to-noise ratios in a pulsar timing array.
- Apr 06 2015 astro-ph.IM gr-qc arXiv:1504.00866v2One strategy for reducing the online computational cost of matched-filter searches for gravitational waves is to introduce a compressed basis for the waveform template bank in a grid-based search. In this paper, we propose and investigate several tunable compression schemes for a general template bank. Through offline compression, such schemes are shown to yield faster detection and localisation of signals, along with moderately improved sensitivity and accuracy over coarsened banks at the same level of computational cost. This is potentially useful for any search involving template banks, and especially in the analysis of data from future space-based detectors such as eLISA, for which online grid searches are difficult due to the long-duration waveforms and large parameter spaces.
- Mar 18 2015 astro-ph.HE gr-qc arXiv:1503.04803v2In this paper we attempt to investigate the nature of the first gravitational wave (GW) signal to be detected by pulsar timing arrays (PTAs): will it be an individual, resolved supermassive black hole binary (SBHB), or a stochastic background made by the superposition of GWs produced by an ensemble of SBHBs? To address this issue, we analyse a broad set of simulations of the cosmological population of SBHBs, that cover the entire parameter space allowed by current electromagnetic observations in an unbiased way. For each simulation, we construct the expected GW signal and identify the loudest individual sources. We then employ appropriate detection statistics to evaluate the relative probability of detecting each type of source as a function of time for a variety of PTAs; we consider the current International PTA, and speculate into the era of the Square Kilometre Array. The main properties of the first detectable individual SBHBs are also investigated. Contrary to previous work, we cast our results in terms of the detection probability (DP), since the commonly adopted criterion based on a signal-to-noise ratio threshold is statistic-dependent and may result in misleading conclusions for the statistics adopted here. Our results confirm quantitatively that a stochastic signal is more likely to be detected first (with between 75 to 93 per cent probability, depending on the array), but the DP of single-sources is not negligible. Our framework is very flexible and can be easily extended to more realistic arrays and to signal models including environmental coupling and SBHB eccentricity.
- Dec 12 2014 gr-qc arXiv:1412.3657v1Posterior distributions on parameters computed from experimental data using Bayesian techniques are only as accurate as the models used to construct them. In many applications these models are incomplete, which both reduces the prospects of detection and leads to a systematic error in the parameter estimates. In the analysis of data from gravitational wave detectors, for example, accurate waveform templates can be computed using numerical methods, but the prohibitive cost of these simulations means this can only be done for a small handful of parameters. In this work a novel method to fold model uncertainties into data analysis is proposed; the waveform uncertainty is analytically marginalised over using with a prior distribution constructed by using Gaussian process regression to interpolate the waveform difference from a small training set of accurate templates. The method is well motivated, easy to implement, and no more computationally expensive than standard techniques. The new method is shown to perform extremely well when applied to a toy problem. While we use the application to gravitational wave data analysis to motivate and illustrate the technique, it can be applied in any context where model uncertainties exist.
- Dec 02 2014 gr-qc astro-ph.HE arXiv:1412.0605v1We present results of a search for continuously-emitted gravitational radiation, directed at the brightest low-mass X-ray binary, Scorpius X-1. Our semi-coherent analysis covers 10 days of LIGO S5 data ranging from 50-550 Hz, and performs an incoherent sum of coherent $\mathcal{F}$-statistic power distributed amongst frequency-modulated orbital sidebands. All candidates not removed at the veto stage were found to be consistent with noise at a 1% false alarm rate. We present Bayesian 95% confidence upper limits on gravitational-wave strain amplitude using two different prior distributions: a standard one, with no a priori assumptions about the orientation of Scorpius X-1; and an angle-restricted one, using a prior derived from electromagnetic observations. Median strain upper limits of 1.3e-24 and 8e-25 are reported at 150 Hz for the standard and angle-restricted searches respectively. This proof of principle analysis was limited to a short observation time by unknown effects of accretion on the intrinsic spin frequency of the neutron star, but improves upon previous upper limits by factors of ~1.4 for the standard, and 2.3 for the angle-restricted search at the sensitive region of the detector.
- Nov 20 2014 gr-qc astro-ph.CO arXiv:1411.5253v1In this article we consider prospects for detecting extreme mass ratio inspirals (EMRIs) using gravitational wave (GW) observations by a future space borne interferometric observatory eLISA. We start with a description of EMRI formation channels. Different formation scenarios lead to variations in the expected event rate and predict different distributions of the orbital parameters when the GW signal enters the eLISA sensitivity band. Then we will briefly overview the available theoretical models describing the GW signal from EMRIs and describe proposed methods for their detection.
- In this paper we present the results of a coherent narrow-band search for continuous gravitational-wave signals from the Crab and Vela pulsars conducted on Virgo VSR4 data. In order to take into account a possible small mismatch between the gravitational wave frequency and two times the star rotation frequency, inferred from measurement of the electromagnetic pulse rate, a range of 0.02 Hz around two times the star rotational frequency has been searched for both the pulsars. No evidence for a signal has been found and 95$\%$ confidence level upper limits have been computed both assuming polarization parameters are completely unknown and that they are known with some uncertainty, as derived from X-ray observations of the pulsar wind torii. For Vela the upper limits are comparable to the spin-down limit, computed assuming that all the observed spin-down is due to the emission of gravitational waves. For Crab the upper limits are about a factor of two below the spin-down limit, and represent a significant improvement with respect to past analysis. This is the first time the spin-down limit is significantly overcome in a narrow-band search.
- Oct 29 2014 gr-qc astro-ph.IM arXiv:1410.7764v2In 2009-2010, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observa- tory (LIGO) operated together with international partners Virgo and GEO600 as a network to search for gravitational waves of astrophysical origin. The sensitiv- ity of these detectors was limited by a combination of noise sources inherent to the instrumental design and its environment, often localized in time or frequency, that couple into the gravitational-wave readout. Here we review the performance of the LIGO instruments during this epoch, the work done to characterize the de- tectors and their data, and the effect that transient and continuous noise artefacts have on the sensitivity of LIGO to a variety of astrophysical sources.