Title page for ETD etd-06292010-161138

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Slutsky, Jacob Peter
Author's Email Address jsluts1@tigers.lsu.edu
URN etd-06292010-161138
Title Quantifying the Impact of Data Quality on Searches for Gravitational Waves From Binary Coalescing Systems with LIGO
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Physics & Astronomy
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
González, Gabriela Committee Chair
Blackmon, Jeffrey Committee Member
Giaime, Joseph Committee Member
Lee, Hwang Committee Member
Tohline, Joel Committee Member
Madden, James Dean's Representative
  • data analysis
  • astronomy
  • veto methods
  • Fourier analysis
  • transient noise
Date of Defense 2010-06-17
Availability unrestricted
Gravitational waves are ripples in space-time itself, predicted by Einstein's General theory

of relativity, which propagate at the speed of light and are not scattered or extinguished

by passing through matter almost at all. In particular, the gravitational waves from the

coalescences of binary systems of compact objects, such as neutron stars and black holes, are

exciting prospects for observation. The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory

experiment intends to make the first direct measurement of gravitational waves, and use

the results to uncover new astrophysics. These observations will not be limited by extinction

from dust and gas, and will probe astrophysical systems at distances of tens of millions to

hundreds of millions of parsecs. The LIGO Scienti c Collaboration searches for gravitational

waves from a variety of astrophysical sources amongst this data. These searches are complicated

by the presence of transients of non-astrophysical origin in the interferometer data.

Control system and equipment malfunctions, as well as coupling from ground motions and

electromagnetic fields, are the most common noises that detract from the LIGO data quality.

These sources of noise increase the false alarm rate for gravitational wave searches, and need

to be vetoed to search the data effectively for detections, or to set upper limits properly.

Vetoes for the searches are created from the available data quality information, and their

e ect on the overall sensitivity of LIGO to these sources must be analyzed. During the S5

science run, I evaluated the data quality information for use as vetoes for the LIGO search

for compact binary coalescences. The use of these vetoes made this search more sensitive to

distant gravitational radiation sources by decreasing the non-astrophysical background from

noise transients. In this dissertation, I quantify the impact of data quality on searches for

gravitational waves with LIGO, and the resulting increased sensitivity to binary coalescing


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