CITA-led Team Announces a New Resource for Gravity Wave Detection, a Comprehensive Catalogue of Binary Black Hole Simulations

A catalog of 171 high-quality binary black-hole simulations for gravitational-wave astronomy

CITA post-doctoral fellow Abdul Mroue leads a team of numerical relativists that includes CITA Professor Harald P. Pfeiffer, post-doctoral fellow Tony Chu, and graduate student Sergeii Ossokine and 14 collaborators from the California Institute of Technology, Cornell University, California State University Fullerton, and Oberlin College.


Coalescing binary black holes are a primary science target of ground-based gravitational-wave detectors, which require detailed knowledge of the expected waveforms to maximize detections and our understanding of the waves’ sources. This paper presents a catalog of numerical binary black- hole simulations that represents a major advance toward the application of numerical relativity to gravitational-wave data analysis. Specifically, the catalog contains 171 numerical simulations that maintain the high accuracy required for matched filtering while following more orbits (up to 33) than previous simulations. A larger number of orbits allows a more reliable connection to approximate analytical waveforms, which are used to extend numerical waveforms to span the entire frequency range of a detector. The catalog contains 91 precessing binaries, providing the most comprehensive survey of precessing systems to date, and includes waveforms with black-hole spins up to 0.97, mass ratios up to 8, and orbital eccentricities from a few percent to ∼10−4. With this combination of length, accuracy, and parameter-space coverage, the catalog can be used to significantly improve existing gravitational-wave templates (including precessing binaries), to study detection efficiency of gravitational-wave searches, and to quantify systematic biases of parameter estimation of detected gravitational waves. Formidable challenges remain; for example, precession complicates the connection of numerical and approximate analytical waveforms, and vast regions of the parameter space remain unexplored.

A detailed paper will make the large catalogue available in July. A distillation of the research with two generic cases as examples was published on the ArXiv today.

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