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Andrew Kaiser publishes research studying the sensitivity of detectors across the black-hole binary gravitational wave spectrum


Andrew Kaiser, a fifth-year graduate student in WVU Physics and Astronomy, alongside Dr. Sean McWilliams, published their research in Classical and Quantum Gravity.

The paper titled “Sensitivity of present and future detectors across the black-hole binary gravitational wave spectrum” was published in December of 2020.

In the paper, they model the sensitivities of current and future generations of gravitational wave detector across the entire gravitational-wave spectrum of coalescing black hole binaries.  Their paper and the accompanying open-source code, Gwent, provide methods to generate sensitivity curves for pulsar timing arrays (PTAs) using a novel realistic PTA sensitivity curve generator, space-based interferometers using adaptive models and ground based interferometers using realistic noise models that can reproduce current, second, and third generation designs, as well as novel variations of the essential design parameters.  Further, to model the signal from black hole binaries at any mass scale, they implemented phenomenological waveforms capable of modeling the inspiral, merger, and ringdown for sources with varying mass rations and spins. 

Describing the study of black hole binaries, Andrew explains “Black holes are known to span at least 9 orders of magnitude in mass: from the stellar-mass objects born from the most massive stars, to supermassive black-holes at the center of galaxies. Regardless of the mass scale, all of these objects are expected to form binaries and eventually emit observable gravitational radiation.”  In order to observe the gravitational radiation from black hole binaries over such a large mass range, “we must use a variety of detectors on the ground, in space, and ones much larger than our solar system,” says Andrew. 

According to Andrew, the overall goals of Gwent is “to provide a one-stop-shop for figuring out if the gravitational waves from any black-hole pair anywhere in the Universe is detectable by our current or proposed instruments and to also be able to compare gravitational wave detectors, even ones that use completely different methods of detection, in a similar way.”


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