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Published July 2016 | Published + Submitted
Journal Article Open

Limits of Astrophysics with Gravitational-Wave Backgrounds


The recent Advanced LIGO detection of gravitational waves from the binary black hole GW150914 suggests there exists a large population of merging binary black holes in the Universe. Although most are too distant to be individually resolved by advanced detectors, the superposition of gravitational waves from many unresolvable binaries is expected to create an astrophysical stochastic background. Recent results from the LIGO and Virgo Collaborations show that this astrophysical background is within reach of Advanced LIGO. In principle, the binary black hole background encodes interesting astrophysical properties, such as the mass distribution and redshift distribution of distant binaries. However, we show that this information will be difficult to extract with the current configuration of advanced detectors (and using current data analysis tools). Additionally, the binary black hole background also constitutes a foreground that limits the ability of advanced detectors to observe other interesting stochastic background signals, for example, from cosmic strings or phase transitions in the early Universe. We quantify this effect.

Additional Information

© 2016 The authors. Published by the American Physical Society. This article is available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the published article's title, journal citation, and DOI. Received 8 April 2016; published 4 August 2016. We thank Christopher Berry, Nelson Christensen, Eric Howell, Vuk Mandic, Duncan Meacher, Tania Regimbau, and Alan Weinstein. T. C. is a member of the LIGO Laboratory, supported by funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation. LIGO was constructed by the California Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology with funding from the National Science Foundation and operates under cooperative agreement Grant No. PHY-0757058. E. T. is supported by ARC FT150100281. I. M. was partially supported by STFC and by the Leverhulme Trust. This paper has been assigned the LIGO document number LIGO-P1600059.

Attached Files

Published - PhysRevX.6.031018.pdf

Submitted - 1604.02513v1.pdf


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August 20, 2023
October 20, 2023