LIGO Document P1500190-v3

Assessing the Merit of a Space-Based Gravitational Wave Antenna for Cosmography and Black Hole Spectroscopy

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Physicists are creating a network of gravitational wave (GW) detectors on Earth that will be capable of detecting GW signals from low-mass compact binary systems. In order to observe more massive binaries, which coalesce at frequencies inaccessible to ground-based detectors due to seismic noise, plans have also been made to create space-based detectors. However, the most serious of these proposals, LISA, is not scheduled for launch until 2034 due to its extreme cost. Therefore, recent efforts have aimed at designing lower-cost detectors that could span a similar frequency band. This project aims to evaluate the scientific merit of one such proposed space-based detector. The proposed detector is sensitive to GW signals in the range of \$10^{-3}-10^{2}\$ Hz, overlapping with the earth-based detectors. We calculate the detector’s best-case signal-to-noise ratio as a function of a source’s location and orientation, and using the Fisher Matrix formalism, we calculate how accurately the detector could locate sources in the sky. We find that, while the instrument can strongly detect GWs out to cosmological distances, its noise curve is too high to accurately pinpoint its sources at distant redshifts. However, upon synthesizing this detector's data with data from earth-based detectors, the detector may still be able to locate interesting GW sources.
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