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Coherently combining short data segments for all-sky semi-coherent continuous gravitational wave searches


Goetz,  Evan
Laser Interferometry & Gravitational Wave Astronomy, AEI-Hannover, MPI for Gravitational Physics, Max Planck Society;

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Goetz, E., & Riles, K. (2016). Coherently combining short data segments for all-sky semi-coherent continuous gravitational wave searches. Classical and quantum gravity, 33(8): 085007. doi:10.1088/0264-9381/33/8/085007.

We present a method for coherently combining short data segments from gravitational-wave detectors to improve the sensitivity of semi-coherent searches for continuous gravitational waves. All-sky searches for continuous gravitational waves from unknown sources are computationally limited. The semi-coherent approach reduces the computational cost by dividing the entire observation timespan into short segments to be analyzed coherently, then combined together incoherently. Semi-coherent analyses that attempt to improve sensitivity by coherently combining data from multiple detectors face a computational challenge in accounting for uncertainties in signal parameters. In this article, we lay out a technique to meet this challenge using summed Fourier transform coefficients. Applying this technique to one all-sky search algorithm called TwoSpect, we confirm that the sensitivity of all-sky, semi-coherent searches can be improved by coherently combining the short data segments. For misaligned detectors, however, this improvement requires careful attention when marginalizing over unknown polarization parameters. In addition, care must be taken in correcting for differential detector velocity due to the Earth's rotation for high signal frequencies and widely separated detectors.