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Physics and Astronomy Telling apart signals from binary black holes and neutron stars from noise transients in gravitational-wave detectors

Theme: Waves Revealing the Cosmos

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Example Project: Telling apart signals from binary black holes and neutron stars from 


noise transients in gravitational-wave detectors

Faculty Mentor: Sukanta Bose

Gravitational-wave signals in LIGO’s Hanford and Livingston detectors from GW150914 — the first binary black hole collision ever observed. (Courtesy: LIGO/Phys. Rev. Lett. 116 061102.)

Gravitational-wave signals from binary black holes and neutron stars in current ground-based detectors like LIGO, Virgo and KAGRA are not persistent but transient, and can be confused with short-lived noise artifacts that can arise from various fleeting disturbances in the components and controls of a detector. Developing the ability to distinguish the signals from the noise improves the chances of observing some of the most energetic and distant collisions in the cosmos.

A complete and accurate cataloging of these compact binaries and their characterization are crucial in understanding the properties of the population of massive stars that leave behind these compact objects once they die. They also enable studies of how their binaries form and how they can be used to understand the expansion of the universe.

An REU student can contribute to this project in the following ways:

  1. Modeling the nature of these transients and identifying differences between their characteristics and those of compact binary signals, e.g., in how differently their power is distributed across time and frequency.
  2. Finding the source of noise transients in the gravitational-wave data, beginning with studies of any correlation they may have with monitors of various components and controls of the detector.

Prof. Sukanta Bose has supervised several undergraduate thesis projects that had resulted in refereed journal publications. A few of these are listed in the references below.

  1. Sukanta Bose, Bernard Hall et al., “Tackling excess noise from bilinear and nonlinear couplings in gravitational-wave interferometers,” Journal of Phys. Conf. Series, Volume 716, Issue 1, 012007 (2016);
  2. Sumeet Kulkarni et al., “Random projections in gravitational wave searches of compact binaries,” Phys. Rev. D99, 10, 101503 (2019);
  3. Javed Rana, Akshat Singhal et al., “An optimal method for scheduling observations of large sky error regions for finding optical counterparts to transients,” The Astrophys. J., Volume 838, Issue 2, 108 (2017);