Astrometric search method for individually resolvable gravitational wave sources with Gaia

Deyan P. Mihaylov, Anthony Lasenby, Gerard Gilmore, Chris Moore

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23 Citations (Scopus)
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Gravitational waves (GWs) cause the apparent position of distant stars to oscillate with a characteristic pattern on the sky. Astrometric measurements (e.g. those made by Gaia) therefore provide a new way to search for GWs. The main difficulty facing such a search is the large size of the data set; Gaia observes more than one billion stars. In this letter the problem of searching for GWs from individually resolvable supermassive black hole binaries using astrometry is addressed for the first time; it is demonstrated how the data set can be compressed by a factor of more than 106, with a loss of sensitivity of less than 1%. This technique is successfully used to recover artificially injected GWs from mock Gaia data. Repeated injections are used to calculate the sensitivity of Gaia as a function of frequency, and Gaia's directional sensitivity variation, or antenna pattern. Throughout the letter the complementarity of Gaia and pulsar timing searches for GWs is highlighted.
Original languageEnglish
Article number261102
Number of pages6
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number26
Publication statusPublished - 29 Dec 2017


  • astro-ph.IM
  • astro-ph.GA
  • gr-qc


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