A Caltech Library Service

Gravitational-wave astronomy with an uncertain noise power spectral density

Talbot, Colm and Thrane, Eric (2020) Gravitational-wave astronomy with an uncertain noise power spectral density. . (Unpublished)

[img] PDF - Submitted Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


In order to extract information about the properties of compact binaries, we must estimate the noise power spectral density of gravitational-wave data, which depends on the properties of the gravitational-wave detector. In practice, it is not possible to know this perfectly, only to estimate it from the data. Multiple estimation methods are commonly used and each has a corresponding statistical uncertainty. However, this uncertainty is widely ignored when measuring the physical parameters describing compact binary coalescences, and the appropriate likelihoods which account for the uncertainty are not well known. In order to perform increasingly precise astrophysical inference and model selection, it will be essential to account for this uncertainty. In this work, we derive the correct likelihood for one of the most widely used estimation methods in gravitational-wave transient analysis, the median average. We demonstrate that simulated Gaussian noise follows the predicted distributions. We then examine real gravitational-wave data at and around the time of GW151012, a relatively low-significance binary black hole merger event. We show that the data are well described by stationary-Gaussian noise and explore the impact of different noise power spectral density estimation methods on the astrophysical inferences we draw about GW151012.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Discussion Paper)
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Thrane, Eric0000-0002-4418-3895
Additional Information:We thank Sharan Banagiri, Sylvia Biscoveanu, Katerina Chatziioannou, Pat Meyers, and Joe Romano for helpful discussions and comments on the manuscript. CT and ET are supported by the Australian Research Council (ARC) CE170100004. CT acknowledges the support of the National Science Foundation, and the LIGO Laboratory. ET is supported by ARC FT150100281. This research has made use of data, software and/or web tools obtained from the Gravitational Wave Open Science Center [38, 39] (, a service of LIGO Laboratory, the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and the Virgo Collaboration. LIGO is funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation. Virgo is funded by the French Centre National de Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), the Italian Istituto Nazionale della Fisica Nucleare (INFN) and the Dutch Nikhef, with contributions by Polish and Hungarian institutes. The authors are grateful for computational resources provided by the LIGO Lab and supported by National Science Foundation Grants PHY-0757058 and PHY-0823459.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Australian Research CouncilCE170100004
Australian Research CouncilFT150100281
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)UNSPECIFIED
Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN)UNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200824-124809636
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:105076
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:24 Aug 2020 20:05
Last Modified:24 Aug 2020 20:05

Repository Staff Only: item control page