Detecting gravitational waves from highly eccentric compact binaries

Kai Sheng Tai, Sean T. McWilliams, Frans Pretorius

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


In dense stellar regions, highly eccentric binaries of black holes and neutron stars can form through various n-body interactions. Such a binary could emit a significant fraction of its binding energy in a sequence of largely isolated gravitational-wave bursts prior to merger. Given expected black hole and neutron star masses, many such systems will emit these repeated bursts at frequencies within the sensitive band of contemporary ground-based gravitational-wave detectors. Unfortunately, existing gravitational-wave searches are ill suited to detect these signals. In this work, we adapt a "power stacking" method to the detection of gravitational-wave signals from highly eccentric binaries. We implement this method as an extension of the Q transform, a projection onto a multiresolution basis of windowed complex exponentials that has previously been used to analyze data from the network of LIGO/Virgo detectors. Our method searches for excess power over an ensemble of time-frequency tiles. We characterize the performance of our method using Monte Carlo experiments with signals injected in simulated detector noise. Our results indicate that the power stacking method achieves substantially better sensitivity to eccentric binary signals than existing localized burst searches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103001
JournalPhysical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 10 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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