Parameter estimation on gravitational waves from neutron-star binaries with spinning components

Ben Farr, Christopher P.L. Berry, Will M. Farr, Carl Johan Haster, Hannah Middleton, Kipp Cannon, Philip B. Graff, Chad Hanna, Ilya Mandel, Chris Pankow, Larry R. Price, Trevor Sidery, Leo P. Singer, Alex L. Urban, Alberto Vecchio, John Veitch, Salvatore Vitale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Inspiraling binary neutron stars (BNSs) are expected to be one of the most significant sources of gravitational-wave signals for the new generation of advanced ground-based detectors. We investigate how well we could hope to measure properties of these binaries using the Advanced LIGO detectors, which began operation in September 2015. We study an astrophysically motivated population of sources (binary components with masses 1.2 M-1.6 M and spins of less than 0.05) using the full LIGO analysis pipeline. While this simulated population covers the observed range of potential BNS sources, we do not exclude the possibility of sources with parameters outside these ranges; given the existing uncertainty in distributions of mass and spin, it is critical that analyses account for the full range of possible mass and spin configurations. We find that conservative prior assumptions on neutron-star mass and spin lead to average fractional uncertainties in component masses of ∼16%, with little constraint on spins (the median 90% upper limit on the spin of the more massive component is ∼0.7). Stronger prior constraints on neutron-star spins can further constrain mass estimates but only marginally. However, we find that the sky position and luminosity distance for these sources are not influenced by the inclusion of spin; therefore, if LIGO detects a low-spin population of BNS sources, less computationally expensive results calculated neglecting spin will be sufficient for guiding electromagnetic follow-up.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number116
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 10 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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