LIGO Document P080079-v1

Search for Gravitational Wave Bursts from Soft Gamma Repeaters

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P - Publications
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We present the results of a LIGO search for short-duration gravitational waves (GW) associated with soft gamma repeater (SGR) bursts. This is the first GW search sensitive to neutron star f-modes, usually considered the most efficient GW emitting modes. We find no evidence of GWs associated with any SGR burst in a sample consisting of the 2004 December 27 giant flare from SGR 1806-20 and 190 lesser events from SGR 1806-20 and SGR 1900+14 which occurred during the first year of LIGO's fifth science run. GW strain upper limits and model-dependent GW emission energy upper limits are estimated for individual bursts using a variety of simulated waveforms. We find upper limit estimates on the model-dependent isotropic GW emission energies (at a nominal distance of 10 kpc) between 3x10^45 and 9x10^52 erg depending on waveform type, detector antenna factors and noise characteristics at the time of the burst. These upper limits are within the theoretically predicted range of some SGR models.

We also propose a new method which extends the initial SGR burst search, exploring the possibility that SGR sources emit similarly in GWs from burst to burst by "stacking" potential GW signals. We show that gains in GW energy sensitivity of N^{1/2} are possible, where N is the number of stacked SGR bursts. Estimated sensitivities for a mock search for GWs from the 2006 March 29 storm from SGR 1900+14 are presented for two stacking scenarios: a "fluence-weighted" scenario and a "flat" (unweighted) scenario.

We also present a method for calibrating gravitational wave detectors via photon actuators. Photon calibrators provide an independent calibration of LIGO's detectors. Their nominal 2-sigma confidence error bars are currently estimated to be ~3%. The photon calibrators have provided a valuable check on the official calibration, uncovering problems that may otherwise have gone unnoticed.

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PhD thesis. posted to arxiv with permission from LSC P&P committee.

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