LIGO Document P1500065-v4

Phase-coherent mapping of gravitational-wave backgrounds using ground-based laser interferometers

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We 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 using the (pseudo)inverse of the response matrix. The distinction between this approach and standard methods for mapping gravitational-wave power is also discussed.
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