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Bayesian Source Direction Determination for Gravitational-Wave Bursts

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Stephen Poprocki

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2007

Einstein's general theory of relativity predicts gravitational waves, but
although we have indirect confirmation, no direct detection of gravitational
waves has been made to date. The Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave
Observatory (LIGO) is, at present, perhaps the mostly promising endeavor to
detect gravitational waves. Once gravitational waves are detected it would be
useful, particularly to astronomers, to know where in the sky the gravitational
waves came from. In simulations, there is so far no satisfactory method of
determining the source direction for generic gravitational-wave bursts. The
goal of this project is to formulate a source direction estimation method based
on Bayesian probability theory, and to compare the performance of this method
to those in common use in the field. By construction receiver operating
characteristic curves, we show that the Bayesian method yields a large
improvement over one of the standard techniques (minimization of the
null energy). Our preliminary analysis also indicates that the Bayesian method
is competitive with timing-based triangulation, which is currently the best
known method.