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Concept# Gravitational wave background

Summary

The gravitational wave background (also GWB and stochastic background) is a random background of gravitational waves permeating the Universe, which is detectable by gravitational-wave experiments, like pulsar timing arrays. The signal may be intrinsically random, like from stochastic processes in the early Universe, or may be produced by an incoherent superposition of a large number of weak independent unresolved gravitational-wave sources, like supermassive black-hole binaries. Detecting the gravitational wave background can provide information that is inaccessible by any other means, about astrophysical source population, like hypothetical ancient supermassive black-hole binaries, and early Universe processes, like hypothetical primordial inflation and cosmic strings.
Sources of a stochastic background
Several potential sources for the background are hypothesized across various frequency bands of interest, with each source producing a bac

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Valerie Fiona Domcke, Daniel Garcia Figueroa

The stochastic gravitational wave background (SGWB) contains a wealth of information on astrophysical and cosmological processes. A major challenge of upcoming years will be to extract the information contained in this background and to disentangle the contributions of different sources. In this paper we provide the formalism to extract, from the correlation of three signals in the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA), information about the tensor three-point function, which characterizes the non-Gaussian properties of the SGWB. This observable can be crucial to discriminate whether a SGWB has a primordial or astrophysical origin. Compared to the two-point function, the SGWB three-point function has a richer dependence on the gravitational wave momenta and chiralities. It can be used therefore as a powerful discriminator between different models. For the first time we provide the response functions of LISA to a general SGWB three-point function. As examples, we study in full detail the cases of an equilateral and squeezed SGWB bispectra, and provide the explicit form of the response functions, ready to be convoluted with any theoretical prediction of the bispectrum to obtain the observable signal. We further derive the optimal estimator to compute the signal-to-noise ratio. Our formalism covers general shapes of non-Gaussianity, and can be extended straightaway to other detector geometries. Finally, we provide a short overview of models of the early universe that can give rise to a non-Gaussian SGWB.

Cosmic string networks offer one of the best prospects for detection of cosmological gravitational waves (GWs). The combined incoherent GW emission of a large number of string loops leads to a stochastic GW background (SGWB), which encodes the properties of the string network. In this paper we analyze the ability of the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) to measure this background, considering leading models of the string networks. We find that LISA will be able to probe cosmic strings with tensions G mu greater than or similar to O(10(-17)), improving by about 6 orders of magnitude current pulsar timing arrays (PTA) constraints, and potentially 3 orders of magnitude with respect to expected constraints from next generation PTA observatories. We include in our analysis possible modifications of the SGWB spectrum due to different hypotheses regarding cosmic history and the underlying physics of the string network. These include possible modifications in the SGWB spectrum due to changes in the number of relativistic degrees of freedom in the early Universe, the presence of a non-standard equation of state before the onset of radiation domination, or changes to the network dynamics due to a string inter-commutation probability less than unity. In the event of a detection, LISA's frequency band is well-positioned to probe such cosmic events. Our results constitute a thorough exploration of the cosmic string science that will be accessible to LISA.

2020We present a set of tools to assess the capabilities of LISA to detect and reconstruct the spectral shape and amplitude of a stochastic gravitational wave background (SGWB). We first provide the LISA power-law sensitivity curve and binned power-law sensitivity curves, based on the latest updates on the LISA design. These curves are useful to make a qualitative assessment of the detection and reconstruction prospects of a SGWB. For a quantitative reconstruction of a SGWB with arbitrary power spectrum shape, we propose a novel data analysis technique: by means of an automatized adaptive procedure, we conveniently split the LISA sensitivity band into frequency bins, and fit the data inside each bin with a power law signal plus a model of the instrumental noise. We apply the procedure to SGWB signals with a variety of representative frequency profiles, and prove that LISA can reconstruct their spectral shape. Our procedure, implemented in the code SGWBinner, is suitable for homogeneous and isotropic SGWBs detectable at LISA, and it is also expected to work for other GW observatories.