Higher harmonics increase LISA's mass reach for supermassive black holes

K. G. Arun, Bala R. Iyer, B. S. Sathyaprakash, Siddhartha Sinha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Current expectations on the signal-to-noise ratios and masses of supermassive black holes which the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) can observe are based on using in matched filtering only the dominant harmonic of the inspiral waveform at twice the orbital frequency. Other harmonics will affect the signal-to-noise ratio of systems currently believed to be observable by LISA. More significantly, inclusion of other harmonics in our matched filters would mean that more massive systems that were previously thought to be not visible in LISA should be detectable with reasonable SNRs. Our estimates show that we should be able to significantly increase the mass reach of LISA and observe the more commonly occurring supermassive black holes of masses ∼108M. More specifically, with the inclusion of all known harmonics LISA will be able to observe even supermassive black hole coalescences with total mass ∼108M(109M) (and mass ratio 0.1) for a low frequency cutoff of 10-4Hz (10-5Hz) with an SNR up to ∼60 (∼30) at a distance of 3 Gpc. This is important from the astrophysical viewpoint since observational evidence for the existence of black holes in this mass range is quite strong and binaries containing such supermassive black holes will be inaccessible to LISA if one uses as detection templates only the dominant harmonic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number124002
JournalPhysical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 1 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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