Comparison of gravitational wave detector network sky localization approximations

K. Grover, S. Fairhurst, B. F. Farr, I. Mandel, C. Rodriguez, T. Sidery, A. Vecchio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Gravitational waves emitted during compact binary coalescences are a promising source for gravitational-wave detector networks. The accuracy with which the location of the source on the sky can be inferred from gravitational-wave data is a limiting factor for several potential scientific goals of gravitational-wave astronomy, including multimessenger observations. Various methods have been used to estimate the ability of a proposed network to localize sources. Here we compare two techniques for predicting the uncertainty of sky localization—timing triangulation and the Fisher information matrix approximations—with Bayesian inference on the full, coherent data set. We find that timing triangulation alone tends to overestimate the uncertainty in sky localization by a median factor of 4 for a set of signals from nonspinning compact object binaries ranging up to a total mass of 20M⊙, and the overestimation increases with the mass of the system. We find that average predictions can be brought to better agreement by the inclusion of phase consistency information in timing-triangulation techniques. However, even after corrections, these techniques can yield significantly different results to the full analysis on specific mock signals. Thus, while the approximate techniques may be useful in providing rapid, large scale estimates of network localization capability, the fully coherent Bayesian analysis gives more robust results for individual signals, particularly in the presence of detector noise.
Original languageEnglish
Article number042004
Number of pages11
JournalPhysical Review D
Issue number4-15
Publication statusPublished - 19 Feb 2014


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