Observing gravitational-wave transient GW150914 with minimal assumptions

Abbott, B. P. and Abbott, R. and Abbott, T. D. and Abernathy, M. R. and Acernese, F. and Ackley, K. and Adams, C. and Adams, T. and Addesso, P. and Adhikari, R. X. and Adya, V. B. and Affeldt, C. and Agathos, M. and Agatsuma, K. and Aggarwal, N. and Aguiar, O. D. and Aiello, L. and Ain, A. and Ajith, P. and Allen, B. and Allocca, A. and Altin, P. A. and Anderson, S. B. and Anderson, W. G. and Arai, K. and Araya, M. C. and Arceneaux, C. and Areeda, J. S. and Arnaud, N. and Arun, K. G. and Ascenzi, S. and Ashton, G. and Ast, M. and Aston, S. M. and Astone, P. and Aufmuth, P. and Aulbert, C. and Babak, S. and Bacon, P. and Bader, M. K M and Baker, P. T. and Baldaccini, F. and Ballardin, G. and Ballmer, S. W. and Barayoga, J. C. and Barclay, S. E. and Barish, B. C. and Jawahar, S. and Lockerbie, N. A. and Tokmakov, K. V., (LIGO Scientific Collaboration and Virgo Collaboration) (2016) Observing gravitational-wave transient GW150914 with minimal assumptions. Physical Review D, 93 (12). 122004. ISSN 1550-2368

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    Abstract

    The gravitational-wave signal GW150914 was first identified on September 14, 2015, by searches for short-duration gravitational-wave transients. These searches identify time-correlated transients in multiple detectors with minimal assumptions about the signal morphology, allowing them to be sensitive to gravitational waves emitted by a wide range of sources including binary black hole mergers. Over the observational period from September 12 to October 20, 2015, these transient searches were sensitive to binary black hole mergers similar to GW150914 to an average distance of ∼600 Mpc. In this paper, we describe the analyses that first detected GW150914 as well as the parameter estimation and waveform reconstruction techniques that initially identified GW150914 as the merger of two black holes. We find that the reconstructed waveform is consistent with the signal from a binary black hole merger with a chirp mass of ∼30 M and a total mass before merger of ∼70 M in the detector frame.