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Journal Article

Impact of Higher Harmonics in Searching for Gravitational Waves from Non-Spinning Binary Black Holes


Buonanno,  A.
Astrophysical and Cosmological Relativity, AEI-Golm, MPI for Gravitational Physics, Max Planck Society;
Maryland Center for Fundamental Physics & Joint Space-Science Institute, Department of Physics, University of Maryland;

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Capano, C., Pan, Y., & Buonanno, A. (2014). Impact of Higher Harmonics in Searching for Gravitational Waves from Non-Spinning Binary Black Holes. Physical Review D, 89(10): 102003. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.89.102003.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0023-F6B5-8
Current searches for gravitational waves from coalescing binary black holes (BBH) use templates that only include the dominant harmonic. In this study we use effective-one-body multipolar waveforms calibrated to numerical-relativity simulations to quantify the effect of neglecting sub-dominant harmonics on the sensitivity of searches. We consider both signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and the signal-based vetoes that are used to re-weight SNR. We find that neglecting sub-dominant modes when searching for non-spinning BBHs with component masses $3\,M_{\odot} \leq m_1, m_2 \leq 200\,M_{\odot}$ and total mass $M < 360\,M_{\odot}$ in advanced LIGO results in a negligible reduction of the re-weighted SNR at detection thresholds. Sub-dominant modes therefore have no effect on the detection rates predicted for advanced LIGO. Furthermore, we find that if sub-dominant modes are included in templates the sensitivity of the search becomes worse if we use current search priors, due to an increase in false alarm probability. Templates would need to be weighted differently than what is currently done to compensate for the increase in false alarms. If we split the template bank such that sub-dominant modes are only used when $M \gtrsim 100\,M_{\odot}$ and mass ratio $q \gtrsim 4$, we find that the sensitivity does improve for these intermediate mass-ratio BBHs, but the sensitive volume associated with these systems is still small compared to equal-mass systems. Using sub-dominant modes is therefore unlikely to substantially increase the probability of detecting gravitational waves from non-spinning BBH signals unless there is a relatively large population of intermediate mass-ratio BBHs in the universe.