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Published August 15, 2012 | Published
Journal Article Open

Inferring core-collapse supernova physics with gravitational waves


Stellar collapse and the subsequent development of a core-collapse supernova explosion emit bursts of gravitational waves (GWs) that might be detected by the advanced generation of laser interferometer gravitational-wave observatories such as Advanced LIGO, Advanced Virgo, and LCGT. GW bursts from core-collapse supernovae encode information on the intricate multidimensional dynamics at work at the core of a dying massive star and may provide direct evidence for the yet uncertain mechanism driving supernovae in massive stars. Recent multidimensional simulations of core-collapse supernovae exploding via the neutrino, magnetorotational, and acoustic explosion mechanisms have predicted GW signals which have distinct structure in both the time and frequency domains. Motivated by this, we describe a promising method for determining the most likely explosion mechanism underlying a hypothetical GW signal, based on principal component analysis and Bayesian model selection. Using simulated Advanced LIGO noise and assuming a single detector and linear waveform polarization for simplicity, we demonstrate that our method can distinguish magnetorotational explosions throughout the Milky Way (D≲10  kpc) and explosions driven by the neutrino and acoustic mechanisms to D≲2  kpc. Furthermore, we show that we can differentiate between models for rotating accretion-induced collapse of massive white dwarfs and models of rotating iron core collapse with high reliability out to several kpc.

Additional Information

© 2012 American Physical Society. Received 23 February 2012; published 17 August 2012. We thank the Basel, MPA Garching, ORNL, and Princeton core-collapse supernova modeling groups for making their gravitational waveforms publicly available. We are happy to acknowledge helpful exchanges with E. Abdikamalov, A. Burrows, Y. Chen, D. Chernoff, N. Christensen, T. Loredo, J. Murphy, J. Nordhaus, L. Santamaria, B. Schutz, M. Vallisneri, A. Weinstein, S. Wesolowski, and the core-collapse supernova working group of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and the Virgo Collaboration. C. D. O. is supported in part by the Sherman Fairchild Foundation and by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. PHY-0904015. Some of the results presented in this article were obtained through computations on the Caltech compute cluster "Zwicky" (NSF MRI Award No. PHY-0960291), on the NSF Teragrid under Grant No. TG-PHY100033, on machines of the Louisiana Optical Network Initiative under Grant No. loni_numrel07, and at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), which is supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy under Contract No. DE-AC02-05CH11231. I. S. H. and J. L. gratefully acknowledge the support of the U.K. Science and Technology Facilities Council and the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance (SUPA).

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