LIGO Document T1600260-v1

Improving the Accuracy of aLIGO Calibration: Calibration Error Models for Precision Tests of General Relativity

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T - Technical notes
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In 2015, the first direct detection of gravitational waves (GWs) was realized with the advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (aLIGO). With the detection emerged the ability to test General Relativity (GR) in large velocity, highly dynamical and strong-field gravity regimes. If GWs were to reveal deviations from GR, the perturbations would be extremely small; characterizing and reducing uncertainties in aLIGO data would allow as much physical information to be recovered in the GW signal as possible. The intent of this project is twofold: to describe the calibration methods and uncertainties used for aLIGO and to also estimate the impact of calibration errors on precision tests of GR. We first describe the current calibration methods for aLIGO and the most important calibration error sources. Then we test the impact of three different calibration models in recovering GW parameters through Bayesian parameter estimation with and without intentional calibration errors. Finally we generate GW signals with a non-GR perturbation in the merger-ringdown regime to determine the precision with which such perturbations can be detected using said calibration error models.

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