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Search for gravitational wave bursts from six magnetars

Abadie, J. and Abbott, B. P. and Abbott, R. and Abernathy, M. and Lockerbie, N. A. and Tokmakov, K. V. and Collaboration, LIGO Sci and Collaboration, Virgo (2011) Search for gravitational wave bursts from six magnetars. Astrophysics Journal Letters, 734 (2). ISSN 2041-8205

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Abstract

Soft gamma repeaters (SGRs) and anomalous X-ray pulsars (AXPs) are thought to be magnetars: neutron stars powered by extreme magnetic fields. These rare objects are characterized by repeated and sometimes spectacular gamma-ray bursts. The burst mechanism might involve crustal fractures and excitation of non-radial modes which would emit gravitational waves (GWs). We present the results of a search for GW bursts from six galactic magnetars that is sensitive to neutron star f-modes, thought to be the most efficient GW emitting oscillatory modes in compact stars. One of them, SGR 0501+4516, is likely similar to 1 kpc from Earth, an order of magnitude closer than magnetars targeted in previous GW searches. A second, AXP 1E 1547.0-5408, gave a burst with an estimated isotropic energy >10(44) erg which is comparable to the giant flares. We find no evidence of GWs associated with a sample of 1279 electromagnetic triggers from six magnetars occurring between 2006 November and 2009 June, in GW data from the LIGO, Virgo, and GEO600 detectors. Our lowest model-dependent GW emission energy upper limits for band-and time-limited white noise bursts in the detector sensitive band, and for f-mode ringdowns (at 1090 Hz), are 3.0 x 10(44)d(1)(2) erg and 1.4 x 10(47)d(1)(2) erg, respectively, where d(1) = d(0501)/1 kpc and d(0501) is the distance to SGR 0501+4516. These limits on GW emission from f-modes are an order of magnitude lower than any previous, and approach the range of electromagnetic energies seen in SGR giant flares for the first time.