Gravitational-wave Geodesy: A New Tool for Validating Detection of the Stochastic Gravitational-wave Background

T. A. Callister, M. W. Coughlin, J. B. Kanner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


A valuable target for advanced gravitational-wave detectors is the stochastic gravitational-wave background. The stochastic background imparts a weak correlated signal into networks of gravitational-wave detectors, and so standard searches for the gravitational-wave background rely on measuring cross-correlations between pairs of widely separated detectors. Stochastic searches, however, can be affected by any other correlated effects that may also be present, including correlated frequency combs and magnetic Schumann resonances. As stochastic searches become sensitive to ever-weaker signals, it is increasingly important to develop methods to separate a true astrophysical signal from other spurious and/or terrestrial signals. Here, we describe a novel method to achieve this goal - gravitational-wave geodesy. Just as radio geodesy allows for the localization of radio telescopes, so too can observations of the gravitational-wave background be used to infer the positions and orientations of gravitational-wave detectors. By demanding that a true observation of the gravitational-wave background yield constraints that are consistent with the baseline's known geometry, we demonstrate that we can successfully validate true observations of the gravitational-wave background while rejecting spurious signals due to correlated terrestrial effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL28
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 20 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Sharan Banagiri, Jan Harms, Andrew Matas, Joe Romano, Colm Talbot, Steve Taylor, Eric Thrane, Alan Weinstein, and members of the LIGO/Virgo Stochastic Data Analysis Group for useful comments and conversation. We also thank our anonymous referees, whose feedback has greatly enhanced the quality and content of the text. LIGO was constructed by the California Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology with funding from the National Science Foundation and operates under cooperative agreement PHY-0757058. M.C. was supported by the David and Ellen Lee Postdoctoral Fellowship at the California Institute of Technology. This paper carries LIGO Document Number LIGO-P1800226.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved..


  • gravitational waves
  • methods: data analysis
  • methods: statistical


Dive into the research topics of 'Gravitational-wave Geodesy: A New Tool for Validating Detection of the Stochastic Gravitational-wave Background'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this