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The Three Ss of Gravitational-Wave Astronomy: Sources, Signals, Searches


Mandel, Ilya (2008) The Three Ss of Gravitational-Wave Astronomy: Sources, Signals, Searches. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/GABY-T236.


As gravitational wave astronomy prepares for the first detections of gravitational waves from compact-object binary inspirals, theoretical work is required on the study of (i) gravitational-wave sources, (ii) the signals emitted by those sources, and (iii) the searches for those signals in detector data. This thesis describes work on all three fronts. (i) We discuss intermediate-mass-ratio inspirals (IMRIs) of black holes or neutron stars into intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs) that could be detected with Advanced LIGO. We analyze different mechanisms of IMRI formation and compute IMRI event rates of up to tens of events per year for Advanced LIGO. We study the spin evolution of IMBHs that grow through a series of minor mergers. We explore how a deviation of an IMRI's central body from a Kerr black hole influences geodesics, including the possibility of chaotic orbital dynamics. We also address the scientific consequences of extreme-mass-ratio inspiral (EMRI) detections by LISA for astrophysics and general relativity, and the difficulties associated with detecting and analyzing EMRI signals. (ii) We study the periodic standing-wave approximation (PSWA), which can potentially provide accurate waveforms in the last inspiral cycles of a comparable-mass black-hole binary. Using a simple model, we find that the solution to Einstein's equations for inspiraling black holes can be recovered to a high accuracy by the addition a perturbative radiation-reaction field to the standing-wave, noninspiraling solution. (iii) We demonstrate the utility of searching for and analyzing tracks in time-frequency spectrograms of a gravitational-wave signal as a means of estimating the parameters of a massive black-hole binary inspiral, as observed by LISA.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:black hole spin; black holes; extreme mass ratio inspirals; gravitational waves; intermediate mass ratio inspirals; LIGO; LISA; periodic standing wave approximation
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Major Option:Physics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Thorne, Kip S.
Group:TAPIR, Astronomy Department
Thesis Committee:
  • Thorne, Kip S. (chair)
  • Weinstein, Alan Jay
  • Cutler, Curt J.
  • Phinney, E. Sterl
Defense Date:28 June 2007
Additional Information:Title varies slightly in 2008 Commencement Program: The Three S’s of Gravitational-Wave Astronomy: Sources, Signals, Searches.
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-03112008-012506
Persistent URL:
Mandel, Ilya0000-0002-6134-8946
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:926
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:02 Apr 2008
Last Modified:10 Mar 2020 23:39

Thesis Files

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