LIGO Document G1000774-v1

Geometrical Factors in the Search for Gravitational Waves from Binary Inspiral

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Castiglia, Anthony. School of Mathematical Sciences, College of Science, Rochester Institute of Technology.

Whelan, John. School of Mathematical Sciences, Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation.

Gravitational waves (GWs), disturbances in spacetime that propagate at the speed of light, are a prediction of Einstein's theory of general relativity. GWs are typically produced by movements of massive objects, such as inspiraling binaries. Two compact stellar remnants, such as black holes or neutron stars orbit each other and lose energy to gravitational radiation, spiraling toward one another. The Laser Interferometric Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) is an experiment designed to detect gravitational radiation. Consisting of interferometric detectors at sites in Livingston, LA and Hanford, WA, LIGO aims to detect the small perturbations caused by GWs. The amplitude of gravitational radiation from a coalescing binary depends on the masses of the compact objects, the distance of the system, and geometrical factors such as the orientation of the binary's orbital plane and the direction to the binary. These factors are used to determine an effective distance of a binary source, at which an optimally located and oriented source would generate the same signal. For a given detector, a binary system with specified component masses should be detectable above noise if its effective distance is below some threshold. The section of the universe in which LIGO is sensitive to gravitational radiation from binary inspiral will be determined, and a mapping of this space will be presented. Although representations of this space as a spherical region have been previously reported, it is anticipated that a more realistic representation will be created by accounting for geometrical factors.

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Talk given on Aug. 13, 2010 at RIT's Undergraduate Research Symposium

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