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Sensitivity of gravitational wave searches to the full signal of intermediate mass black hole binaries during the LIGO O1 Science Run


Salemi,  Francesco
Observational Relativity and Cosmology, AEI-Hannover, MPI for Gravitational Physics, Max Planck Society;

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Bustillo, J. C., Salemi, F., Canton, T. d., & Jani, K. (2018). Sensitivity of gravitational wave searches to the full signal of intermediate mass black hole binaries during the LIGO O1 Science Run. Physical Review D, 97: 024016. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.97.024016.

The sensitivity of gravitational wave searches for binary black holes is estimated via the injection and posterior recovery of simulated gravitational wave signals in the detector data streams. When a search reports no detections, the estimated sensitivity is then used to place upper limits on the coalescence rate of the target source. In order to obtain correct sensitivity and rate estimates, the injected waveforms must be faithful representations of the real signals. Up to date, however, injected waveforms have neglected radiation modes of order higher than the quadrupole, potentially biasing sensitivity and coalescence rate estimates. In particular, higher-order modes are known to have a large impact in the gravitational waves emitted by intermediate mass black holes binaries. In this work we evaluate the impact of this approximation in the context of two search algorithms run by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration in their search for intermediate mass black hole binaries in the O1 LIGO Science Run data: a matched-filter based pipeline and a coherent un-modeled one. To this end we estimate the sensitivity of both searches to simulated signals including and omitting higher-order modes. We find that omission of higher-order modes leads to biases in the sensitivity estimates which depend on the masses of the binary, the search algorithm and the required level of significance for detection. In addition, we compare the sensitivity of the two search algorithms across the studied parameter space. We conclude that the most recent LIGO-Virgo upper limits on the rate of coalescence of intermediate mass black hole binaries are conservative for the case of highly asymmetric binaries. However, the tightest upper limits, placed for nearly-equal-mass sources, remain unchanged due to the small contribution of higher modes to the corresponding sources.