Date of Graduation

5-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Physics (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Physics

Advisor

Daniel Kennefick

Committee Member

Julia Kennefick

Second Committee Member

Reeta Vyas

Third Committee Member

Yo'av Rieck

Fourth Committee Member

Eric Poisson

Keywords

Pure sciences; General relativity; Gravitational waves

Abstract

Orbiting compact binaries - such as binary black holes, binary neutron stars and neutron star-black hole binaries - are among the most promising sources of gravitational waves observable by ground-based interferometric detectors. Despite numerous sophisticated engineering techniques, the gravitational wave signals will be buried deep within noise generated by various instrumental and environmental processes, and need to be extracted via a signal processing technique referred to as matched filtering.

Matched filtering requires large banks of signal templates that are faithful representations of the true gravitational waveforms produced by astrophysical binaries. The accurate and efficient production of templates is thus crucial to the success of signal processing and data analysis. To that end, the dissertation presents a numerical technique that calibrates existing analytical (Post-Newtonian) waveforms, which are relatively inexpensive, to more accurate fiducial waveforms that are computationally expensive to generate. The resulting waveform family is significantly more accurate than the analytical waveforms, without incurring additional computational costs of production.

Certain kinds of transient background noise artefacts, called "glitches", can masquerade as gravitational wave signals for short durations and throw-off the matched-filter algorithm. Identifying glitches from true gravitational wave signals is a highly non-trivial exercise in data analysis which has been attempted with varying degrees of success. We present here a machine-learning based approach that exploits the various attributes of glitches and signals within detector data to provide a classification scheme that is a significant improvement over previous methods.

The dissertation concludes by investigating the possibility of detecting a non-linear DC imprint, called the Christodoulou memory, produced in the arms of ground-based interferometers by the recently detected gravitational waves. The memory, which is even smaller in amplitude than the primary (detected) gravitational waves, will almost certainly not be seen in the current detection event. Nevertheless, future space-based detectors will likely be sensitive enough to observe the memory.

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