Searching for Gravitational Wave Bursts: A Bayesian Approach (Joint CCRG Seminar/SMS Colloquium)

05/05/2010 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Lee Samuel Finn
Speaker affiliation: 
Penn State

Few, if any, fundamentally new observational modalities have been as eagerly anticipated as gravitational waves. In addition to observing phenomena, like black holes, that are invisible to electromagnetic (e.g., radio, optical or gamma-ray) telescopes or particle (e.g., neutrino or cosmic ray) detectors, gravitational wave observations will pierce the veil of gas and dust that shrouds regions of strong gravity: e.g., the core of a collapsing star, or the center of our own galaxy.
Not surprisingly, gravitational wave detector data is unlike other data that astronomers are familiar with. To exploit forthcoming observations new analysis techniques must be learned and developed. In this seminar we will explore a new, Bayesian approach to exploring gravitational wave detector data sets that addresses  a hierarchy of three specific questions: has a gravitational wave burst been detected? where is the source of the detected burst? and, what is the time-dependent signature of the radiation? How, and how well, we can address these questions will be demonstrated with examples drawn the LIGO/Virgo ground-based detector network, the proposed LISA space-based detector, and nature's own galactic-scale detector: pulsar timing arrays.

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