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Ultrahigh precision cosmology from gravitational waves

Cutler, Curt and Holz, Daniel E. (2009) Ultrahigh precision cosmology from gravitational waves. Physical Review D, 80 (10). Art. No. 104009. ISSN 2470-0010.

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We show that the Big Bang Observer (BBO), a proposed space-based gravitational-wave (GW) detector, would provide ultraprecise measurements of cosmological parameters. By detecting ∼3×10^5 compact-star binaries, and utilizing them as standard sirens, BBO would determine the Hubble constant to ∼0.1%, and the dark-energy parameters w_0 and w_a to ∼0.01 and ∼0.1, respectively. BBO’s dark-energy figure-of-merit would be approximately an order of magnitude better than all other proposed, dedicated dark-energy missions. To date, BBO has been designed with the primary goal of searching for gravitational waves from inflation, down to the level Ω_(GW)∼10^(-17); this requirement determines BBO’s frequency band (deci-Hz) and its sensitivity requirement (strain measured to ∼10^(-24)). To observe an inflationary GW background, BBO would first have to detect and subtract out ∼3×10^5 merging compact-star binaries, out to a redshift z ∼ 5. It is precisely this carefully measured foreground which would enable high-precision cosmology. BBO would determine the luminosity distance to each binary to ∼ percent accuracy. In addition, BBO’s angular resolution would be sufficient to uniquely identify the host galaxy for the majority of binaries; a coordinated optical/infrared observing campaign could obtain the redshifts. Combining the GW-derived distances and the electromagnetically-derived redshifts for such a large sample of objects, out to such high redshift, naturally leads to extraordinarily tight constraints on cosmological parameters. We emphasize that such “standard siren” measurements of cosmology avoid many of the systematic errors associated with other techniques: GWs offer a physics-based, absolute measurement of distance. In addition, we show that BBO would also serve as an exceptionally powerful gravitational-lensing mission, and we briefly discuss other astronomical uses of BBO, including providing an early warning system for all short/hard gamma-ray bursts.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Alternate Title:Ultra-high precision cosmology from gravitational waves
Additional Information:© 2009 American Physical Society. Received 23 June 2009; published 9 November 2009. CC’s work was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. He acknowledges support from a JPL Research and Technology Development grant, as well as support from NASA grant 06-BEFS06-31. We thank Peter Bender, Peter Fritschel, Salman Habib, Jan Harms, Noboyuki Kanda, Seiji Kawamura, Lexi Moustakis, Hans-Reiner Schulte, Tom Prince, Jason Rhodes, Naoki Seto, Daniel Shaddock, and Michele Vallisneri for helpful discussions. We particularly wish to thank Marta Volonteri for sharing her merger-tree results (which we used to estimate BBO’s detection rate for high-z IMBH inspirals), Dragan Huterer and Licia Verde for help with the inclusion of Planck priors, and Lee Lindblom for his observation that BBO would be an all-sky monitor for short gamma-ray bursts.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
JPL Research and Technology Development FundUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:10
Classification Code:PACS numbers: 04.30.-w, 04.80.Nn, 95.35.+d, 95.36.+x
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130222-100444163
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:37070
Deposited By: JoAnn Boyd
Deposited On:05 Mar 2013 18:50
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 04:44

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