Gravitational-wave bursts with memory and experimental prospects

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Abstract

Experimenters usually divide the gravitational waves which they hope to detect into three classes: 'bursts' in which the wave field hTTij rises from zero, oscillates for only a few cycles and then returns to zero; 'periodic waves', and 'stochastic waves'1. There is, however, a fourth class, 'bursts with memory'2–6 (BWM), in which hTTij rises from zero, oscillates for a few cycles, and then after a burst of duration Δt settles down into a non-zero final value δhTTij. Here we show that for any kind of detector the best way to search for a BWM is to integrate up the signal for an integration time t̂ 1/fopt, where fopt is the frequency at which the detector has optimal amplitude sensitivity to ordinary bursts (bursts without memory). In such a search the sensitivity to BWM with duration Δ <= 1/fopt is independent of the burst duration Δt and is approximately equal to the sensitivity to ordinary bursts one cycle long with frequency fopt (see Fig. 1). It is possible, though not highly probable, that BWM will be among the earliest kinds of gravitational waves detected; therefore experimenters should take them into account when planning their search strategies and data analyses.

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