Observational Selection Effects with Ground-based Gravitational Wave Detectors

30 Jul 2016  ·  Chen Hsin-Yu, Essick Reed, Vitale Salvatore, Holz Daniel E., Katsavounidis Erik ·

Ground-based interferometers are not perfectly all-sky instruments, and it is important to account for their behavior when considering the distribution of detected events. In particular, the LIGO detectors are most sensitive to sources above North America and the Indian Ocean and, as the Earth rotates, the sensitive regions are swept across the sky... However, because the detectors do not acquire data uniformly over time, there is a net bias on detectable sources' right ascensions. Both LIGO detectors preferentially collect data during their local night; it is more than twice as likely to be local midnight than noon when both detectors are operating. We discuss these selection effects and how they impact LIGO's observations and electromagnetic follow-up. Beyond galactic foregrounds associated with seasonal variations, we find that equatorial observatories can access over $80\%$ of the localization probability, while mid-latitudes will access closer to $70\%$. Facilities located near the two LIGO sites can observe sources closer to their zenith than their analogs in the South, but the average observation will still be no closer than $44^\circ$ from zenith. We also find that observatories in Africa or the South Atlantic will wait systematically longer before they can begin observing compared to the rest of the world, although there is a preference for longitudes near the LIGOs. These effects, along with knowledge of the LIGO antenna pattern, can inform electromagnetic follow-up activities and optimization, including the possibility of directing observations even before gravitational-wave events occur. read more

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High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics