LIGO Document T1900355-v1

Optimal Mass, Spin, and Orientation Parameters for Detecting Higher Order Gravitational-wave Modes from Binary Black Hole Mergers

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T - Technical notes
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Thus far, the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (aLIGO) and Advanced Virgo have detected gravitational waves (GWs), or ripples in the curvature of spacetime, from dozens of binary black hole (BBH) and binary neutron star mergers. In order to detect these GWs, aLIGO data are optimally searched against a bank of model waveform templates well-described by General Relativity (GR). These searches only include waveforms for the dominant Y22 mode, neglecting higher order modes (HOMs) which carry important information about the source and its radiation. Furthermore, HOMs are lower in amplitude than the dominant mode, and tend to lie outside of aLIGO's sensitive frequency band for low-mass systems, making their detection very unlikely. Constrained by this strain sensitivity, we use waveforms produced by numerical relativity simulations to assess the capabilities of aLIGO for detecting HOMs, thus paving the way for a powerful test of GR in the strong-field highly dynamical regime. To determine the range of BBH mass, spin, and orbital orientations which optimizes the likelihood of detecting HOM, we therefore calculate the overlap integral between templates with and without HOMs, as well as the maximum effective luminosity distance to the source. We find the following results: the total mass and mass ratio of the merger should be as large as possible, and the aligned spin should be as large and positive as possible. We find the relationship with inclination angle to be more complicated, as it depends on which combination of HOMs are most dominant at a certain mass ratio.
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Mahlet Shiferaw SURF19 project material

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