LIGO Document T1300918-v1

Extracting Astrophysical Parameters from Gravitational-Wave Observations

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T - Technical notes
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LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) is engaged in the search for gravitational waves. An expected class of sources are compact binary systems that lose energy through gravitational radiation during coalescence, just as predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity. In this project, we wished to identity these gravitational-wave signatures. I worked on data analysis for LIGO at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), particularly on parameter estimation. We used a number of post-Newtonian based approximations to describe the coalescences; these are methods of approximating solutions to Einstein’s field equations—the equations of general relativity. For this project, we focused on a simulated black hole-black hole binary. We compared several approximants and extracted all necessary parameters. Determination of these parameters provided insight into the underlying physics, as well as how important choice of approximant on parameter recovery for spinning signals was within known limitations of each approximant. Using inference software developed within the LIGO-VIRGO collaboration, we also sought to evaluate its
performances in this regard.
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