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Publication# Probing non-Gaussian stochastic gravitational wave backgrounds with LISA

Abstract

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.

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Gravitational wave background

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, li

Gravitational wave

Gravitational waves are waves of the intensity of gravity that are generated by the accelerated masses of an orbital binary system, and propagate as waves outward from their source at the speed of li

Astrophysics

Astrophysics is a science that employs the methods and principles of physics and chemistry in the study of astronomical objects and phenomena. As one of the founders of the discipline, James Keele

The NANOGrav, Parkes, European, and International Pulsar Timing Array (PTA) Collaborations have reported evidence for a common-spectrum process that can potentially correspond to a stochastic gravitational wave background (SGWB) in the 1-100 nHz frequency range. We consider the scenario in which this signal is produced by magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) turbulence in the early Universe, induced by a nonhelical primordial magnetic field at the energy scale corresponding to the quark confinement phase transition. We perform MHD simulations to study the dynamical evolution of the magnetic field and compute the resulting SGWB. We show that the SGWB output from the simulations can be very well approximated by assuming that the magnetic anisotropic stress is constant in time, over a time interval related to the eddy turnover time. The analytical spectrum that we derive under this assumption features a change of slope at a frequency corresponding to the GW source duration that we confirm with the numerical simulations. We compare the SGWB signal with the PTA data to constrain the temperature scale at which the SGWB is sourced, as well as the amplitude and characteristic scale of the initial magnetic field. We find that the generation temperature is constrained to be in the 1-200 MeV range, the magnetic field amplitude must be >1% of the radiation energy density at that time, and the magnetic field characteristic scale is constrained to be >10% of the horizon scale. We show that the turbulent decay of this magnetic field will lead to a field at recombination that can help to alleviate the Hubble tension and can be tested by measurements in the voids of the Large Scale Structure with gamma-ray telescopes like the Cherenkov Telescope Array.

The expansion history of the Universe between the end of inflation and the onset of radiation-domination (RD) is currently unknown. If the equation of state during this period is stiffer than that of radiation, w > 1/3, the gravitational wave (GW) background from inflation acquires a blue-tilt d log rho GW/d log f = 2(w-1/3)/(w+1/3) > 0 at frequencies f >> f(RD) corresponding to modes re-entering the horizon during the stiff-domination (SD), where f(RD) is the frequency today of the horizon scale at the SD-to-RD transition. We characterized in detail the transfer function of the GW energy density spectrum, considering both 'instant' and smooth modelings of the SD-to-RD transition. The shape of the spectrum is controlled by w, f(RD), and H-inf (the Hubble scale of inflation). We determined the parameter space compatible with a detection of this signal by LIGO and LISA, including possible changes in the number of relativistic degrees of freedom, and the presence of a tensor tilt. Consistency with upper bounds on stochastic GW backgrounds, however, rules out a significant fraction of the observable parameter space. We find that this renders the signal unobservable by Advanced LIGO, in all cases. The GW background remains detectable by LISA, though only in a small island of parameter space, corresponding to scenarios with an equation of state in the range 0.46 less than or similar to w less than or similar to 0.56 and a high inflationary scale H-inf greater than or similar to 10(13) GeV, but low reheating temperature 1 MeV less than or similar to T-RD less than or similar to 150 MeV (equivalently, 10(-11) Hz less than or similar to f(RD) less than or similar to 3.6.10(-9) Hz). Implications for early Universe scenarios resting upon an SD epoch are briefly discussed.

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.

2020