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Gravitational wave detection with photometric surveys

Wang, Yijun and Pardo, Kris and Chang, Tzu-Ching and Doré, Olivier (2021) Gravitational wave detection with photometric surveys. Physical Review D, 103 (8). Art. No. 084007. ISSN 2470-0010. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.103.084007.

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Gravitational wave (GW) detections have considerably enriched our understanding of the universe. To date, all GW events from individual sources have been found by interferometer-type detectors. In this paper, we study a GW detection technique based on astrometric solutions from photometric surveys and demonstrate that it offers a highly flexible frequency range that can uniquely complement existing detection methods. From repeated point-source astrometric measurements, periodic GW-induced deflections can be extracted and wave parameters inferred. We emphasize that this method can be applied widely to any photometric surveys relying on relative astrometric measurements, in addition to surveys designed to measure absolute astrometry, such as Gaia. We illustrate how high-cadence observations of the galactic bulge, such as offered by the Roman Space Telescope’s Exoplanet MicroLensing (EML) survey, have the potential to be a potent GW probe with a complementary frequency range to Gaia, pulsar timing arrays, and the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna. We calculate that the Roman EML survey is sensitive to GWs with frequencies ranging from 7.7×10⁻⁸  Hz to 5.6×10⁻⁴  Hz, which opens up a unique GW observing window for supermassive black hole binaries and their waveform evolution. While the detection threshold assuming the currently expected performance proves too high for detecting individual GWs in light of the expected supermassive black hole binary population distribution, we show that binaries with chirp mass M_c > 10^(8.3)  M_⊙ out to 100 Mpc can be detected if the telescope is able to achieve an astrometric accuracy of 0.11 mas. To confidently detect binaries with M_c > 10⁷ M_⊙ out to 50 Mpc, a factor of 100 sensitivity improvement is required. We propose several improvement strategies, including recovering the mean astrometric deflection and increasing astrometric accuracy, number of observed stars, field-of-view size, and observational cadence. We also discuss how other existing and planned photometric surveys could contribute to detecting GWs via astrometry.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Wang, Yijun0000-0002-5581-2001
Pardo, Kris0000-0002-9910-6782
Doré, Olivier0000-0002-5009-7563
Additional Information:© 2021 American Physical Society. Received 9 October 2020; accepted 12 March 2021; published 9 April 2021. We thank the anonymous referees for their helpful comments and suggestions that improve this manuscript. We are deeply grateful for discussions with Jeff Kruk, Scott Gaudi, and Davy Kirkpatric on the Roman Space Telescope, as well as Robert Lupton on the Rubin Observatory and Joseph Lazio and Steven Myers on the ngVLA. We thank Todd Gaier for a discussion that inspired this work. Y. W. thanks the David and Ellen Lee Distinguished Fellowship for support during this research. Part of this work was done at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. This work was supported by NASA Grant No. 15-WFIRST15-0008 Cosmology with the High Latitude Survey Roman Science Investigation Team (SIT). Software: astropy [63], astroquery [64], emcee [65], matplotlib [66], numpy [67], scipy [68].
Funding AgencyGrant Number
David and Ellen Lee Postdoctoral ScholarshipUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:8
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210115-073048473
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:107505
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:15 Jan 2021 16:43
Last Modified:21 Apr 2021 16:55

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