Editors: Pau Amaro-Seoane & Bernard Schutz
The last GW Note is a Special Issues on eLISA/NGO

Discriminating between a Stochastic Gravitational Wave Background and Instrument Noise

arXiv:1002.1291

by Adams, Matthew R. and Cornish, Neil J.
10 Pages, 10 Figures

The detection of a stochastic background of gravitational waves could significantly impact our understanding of the physical processes that shaped the early Universe. The challenge lies in separating the cosmological signal from other stochastic processes such as instrument noise and astrophysical foregrounds. One approach is to build two or more detectors and cross correlate their output, thereby enhancing the common gravitational wave signal relative to the uncorrelated instrument noise. When only one detector is available, as will likely be the case with the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA), alternative analysis techniques must be developed. Here we show that models of the noise and signal transfer functions can be used to tease apart the gravitational and instrument noise contributions. We discuss the role of gravitational wave insensitive “null channels” formed from particular combinations of the time delay interferometry, and derive a new combination that maintains this insensitivity for unequal arm length detectors. We show that, in the absence of astrophysical foregrounds, LISA could detect signals with energy densities as low as $latex \Omega_{\rm gw} = 6 \times 10^{-13}$ with just one month of data. We describe an end-to-end Bayesian analysis pipeline that is able to search for, characterize and assign confidence levels for the detection of a stochastic gravitational wave background, and demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach using simulated data from the third round of Mock LISA Data Challenges.

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