Advanced ground-based gravitational-wave (GW) detectors begin operation imminently. Their intended goal is not only to make the first direct detection of GWs, but also to make inferences about the source systems. Binary neutron-star mergers are among the most promising sources. We investigate the performance of the parameter-estimation (PE) pipeline that will be used during the first observing run of the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (aLIGO) in 2015: we concentrate on the ability to reconstruct the source location on the sky, but also consider the ability to measure masses and the distance. Accurate, rapid sky localization is necessary to alert electromagnetic (EM) observatories so that they can perform follow-up searches for counterpart transient events. We consider PE accuracy in the presence of non-stationary, non-Gaussian noise. We find that the character of the noise makes negligible difference to the PE performance at a given signal-to-noise ratio. The source luminosity distance can only be poorly constrained, since the median 90% (50%) credible interval scaled with respect to the true distance is 0.85 (0.38). However, the chirp mass is well measured. Our chirp-mass estimates are subject to systematic error because we used gravitational-waveform templates without component spin to carry out inference on signals with moderate spins, but the total error is typically less than 10-3 M⊙. The median 90% (50%) credible region for sky localization is ∼600 deg2 (∼150 deg2), with 3% (30%) of detected events localized within 100 deg2. Early aLIGO, with only two detectors, will have a sky-localization accuracy for binary neutron stars of hundreds of square degrees; this makes EM follow-up challenging, but not impossible.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science