Correlated 1-1000 Hz magnetic field fluctuations from lightning over Earth-scale distances and their impact on gravitational wave searches

Kamiel Janssens, Matthew Ball, Robert M.S. Schofield, Nelson Christensen, Raymond Frey, Nick Van Remortel, Sharan Banagiri, Michael W. Coughlin, Anamaria Effler, Mark Gołkowski, Jerzy Kubisz, Michał Ostrowski

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We report Earth-scale distance magnetic correlations from lightning strokes in the frequency range 1-1000 Hz at several distances ranging from 1100 km to 9000 km. Noise sources which are correlated on Earth-scale distances can affect future searches for gravitational-wave signals with ground-based gravitational-wave interferometric detectors. We consider the impact of correlations from magnetic field fluctuations on gravitational-wave searches due to Schumann resonances (<50 Hz) as well as higher frequencies (>100 Hz). We demonstrate that individual lightning strokes are a likely source for the observed correlations in the magnetic field fluctuations at gravitational-wave observatories and discuss some of their characteristics. Furthermore, we predict their impact on searches for an isotropic gravitational-wave background, as well as for searches looking for short-duration transient gravitational waves, both unmodeled signals (bursts) as well as modeled signals (compact binary coalescence). Whereas the recent third observing run by LIGO and Virgo was free of an impact from correlated magnetic field fluctuations, future runs could be affected. In particular, third-generation detectors may be highly susceptible to these correlated magnetic transients in the various searches as well as parameter estimation. We suggest that future detector design should consider reducing lightning coupling by, for example, reducing the lightning-induced beam tube currents that pass through sensitive magnetic coupling regions in current detectors. We also suggest that the diurnal and seasonal variation in lightning activity may be useful in discriminating between detector correlations that are produced by gravitational waves and those produced by lightning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number022004
JournalPhysical Review D
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This material is based upon work supported by NSF’s LIGO Laboratory which is a major facility fully funded by the National Science Foundation. The authors acknowledge access to computational resources provided by the LIGO Laboratory supported by National Science Foundation Grants No. PHY-0757058 and No. PHY-0823459. The authors would like to thank Patrick M. Meyers and Irene Fiori for useful comments and discussions. This paper has been given LIGO DCC No. P2200241 and Virgo TDS No. VIR-0800A-22. K. J. is supported by FWO-Vlaanderen via Grant No. 11C5720N. M. B., RF, and R. M. S. S. are supported by UO NSF Grant No. PHY-1912604. M. W. C. is supported by the National Science Foundation with Grants No. PHY-2010970 and No. OAC-2117997. S. B. acknowledges support by the NSF Grant No. PHY-180663.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 American Physical Society.


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