Astronomy and Astrophysics – Astrophysics – General Relativity and Quantum Cosmology
32 pages, 12 figures, submitted to CQG for the NRDA2010 conference proceedings, added new figure (fig. 5) since last version
This article presents a study of the sufficient accuracy of post-Newtonian and numerical relativity waveforms for the most demanding usage case: parameter estimation of strong sources in advanced gravitational wave detectors. For black hole binaries, these detectors require accurate waveform models which can be constructed by fusing an analytical post-Newtonian inspiral waveform with a numerical relativity merger-ringdown waveform. We perform a comprehensive analysis of errors that enter such "hybrid waveforms". We find that the post-Newtonian waveform must be aligned with the numerical relativity waveform to exquisite accuracy, about 1/100 of a gravitational wave cycle. Phase errors in the inspiral phase of the numerical relativity simulation must be controlled to less than about 0.1rad. (These numbers apply to moderately optimistic estimates about the number of GW sources; exceptionally strong signals require even smaller errors.) The dominant source of error arises from the inaccuracy of the investigated post-Newtonian Taylor-approximants. Using our error criterium, even at 3.5-th post-Newtonian order, hybridization has to be performed significantly before the start of the longest currently available numerical waveforms which cover 30 gravitational wave cycles. The current investigation is limited to the equal-mass, zero-spin case and does not take into account calibration errors of the gravitational wave detectors.
Pfeiffer Harald P.
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