Ilya Mandel - the Mock LISA Data Challenge Task Force

Ilya Mandel
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Ilya Mandel
the Mock LISA Data Challenge Task Force

Pubs By Year

Pub Categories

High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena (39)
General Relativity and Quantum Cosmology (31)
Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (14)
Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics (8)
Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (7)
Physics - Data Analysis; Statistics and Probability (6)
Astrophysics of Galaxies (6)
Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (1)

Publications Authored By Ilya Mandel

As we enter the era of gravitational wave astronomy, we are beginning to collect observations which will enable us to explore aspects of astrophysics of massive stellar binaries which were previously beyond reach. In this paper we describe COMPAS (Compact Object Mergers: Population Astrophysics and Statistics), a new platform to allow us to deepen our understanding of isolated binary evolution and the formation of gravitational-wave sources. We describe the computational challenges associated with their exploration, and present preliminary results on overcoming them using Gaussian process regression as a simulation emulation technique. Read More

During its first 4 months of taking data, Advanced LIGO has detected gravitational waves from two binary black hole mergers, GW150914 and GW151226, along with the statistically less significant binary black hole merger candidate LVT151012. We use our rapid binary population synthesis code COMPAS to show that all three events can be explained by a single evolutionary channel -- classical isolated binary evolution via mass transfer including a common envelope phase. We show all three events could have formed in low-metallicity environments (Z = 0. Read More

Black hole binaries may form both through isolated binary evolution and through dynamical interactions in dense stellar environments. During the formation and evolution of isolated binaries, several processes can alter the orientation of the black hole spin vectors with respect to the binary's orbital angular momentum. A subset of binary black holes merge through the emission of gravitational radiation and are observable with advanced ground-based gravitational-wave detectors. Read More

We investigate interactions of stellar binaries in galactic nuclear clusters with a massive black hole (MBH). We consider binaries on highly eccentric orbits around the MBH that change due to random gravitational interactions with other stars in the nuclear stellar cluster. The pericenters of the orbits perform a random walk, and we consider cases where this random walk slowly brings the binary to the Hills tidal separation radius (the so-called empty loss-cone regime). Read More

Parameter estimation on gravitational wave signals from compact binary coalescence (CBC) requires the evaluation of computationally intensive waveform models, typically the bottleneck in the analysis. This cost will increase further as low frequency sensitivity in later second and third generation detectors motivates the use of longer waveforms. We describe a method for accelerating parameter estimation by exploiting the chirping behaviour of the signals to sample the waveform sparsely for portions where the full frequency resolution is not required. Read More

The recent advanced LIGO detections of gravitational waves from merging binary black holes enhance the prospect of exploring binary evolution via gravitational-wave observations of a population of compact-object binaries. In the face of uncertainty about binary formation models, model-independent inference provides an appealing alternative to comparisons between observed and modelled populations. We describe a procedure for clustering in the multi-dimensional parameter space of observations that are subject to significant measurement errors. Read More

The intermediate mass-ratio inspiral of a stellar compact remnant into an intermediate mass black hole (IMBH) can produce a gravitational wave (GW) signal that is potentially detectable by current ground-based GW detectors (e.g., Advanced LIGO) as well as by planned space-based interferometers (e. Read More

The recent Advanced LIGO detection of gravitational waves from the binary black hole GW150914 suggests there exists a large population of merging binary black holes in the Universe. Although most are too distant to be individually resolved by advanced detectors, the superposition of gravitational waves from many unresolvable binaries is expected to create an astrophysical stochastic background. Recent results from the LIGO and Virgo collaborations show that this astrophysical background is within reach of Advanced LIGO. Read More

We explore a newly proposed channel to create binary black holes of stellar origin. This scenario applies to massive, tight binaries where mixing induced by rotation and tides transports the products of hydrogen burning throughout the stellar envelopes. This slowly enriches the entire star with helium, preventing the build-up of an internal chemical gradient. Read More

Recent non-detection of gravitational-wave backgrounds from pulsar timing arrays casts further uncertainty on the evolution of supermassive black hole binaries. We study the capabilities of current gravitational-wave observatories to detect individual binaries and demonstrate that, contrary to conventional wisdom, some are in principle detectable throughout the Universe. In particular, a binary with rest-frame mass $\gtrsim10^{10}\,M_\odot$ can be detected by current timing arrays at arbitrarily high redshifts. Read More

Gravitational waves from coalescences of neutron stars or stellar-mass black holes into intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs) of $\gtrsim 100$ solar masses represent one of the exciting possible sources for advanced gravitational-wave detectors. These sources can provide definitive evidence for the existence of IMBHs, probe globular-cluster dynamics, and potentially serve as tests of general relativity. We analyse the accuracy with which we can measure the masses and spins of the IMBH and its companion in intermediate-mass ratio coalescences. Read More

The birth kicks of black holes, arising from asymmetric mass ejection or neutrino emission during core-collapse supernovae, are of great interest for both observationally constraining supernova models and population-synthesis studies of binary evolution. Recently, several efforts were undertaken to estimate black hole birth kicks from observations of black-hole low-mass X-ray binaries. We follow up on this work, specifically focussing on the highest estimated black-hole kick velocities. Read More

Inspiraling binary neutron stars are expected to be one of the most significant sources of gravitational-wave signals for the new generation of advanced ground-based detectors. We investigate how well we could hope to measure properties of these binaries using the Advanced LIGO detectors, which began operation in September 2015. We study an astrophysically motivated population of sources (binary components with masses $1. Read More

Strongly lensed variable quasars can serve as precise cosmological probes, provided that time delays between the image fluxes can be accurately measured. A number of methods have been proposed to address this problem. In this paper, we explore in detail a new approach based on kernel regression estimates, which is able to estimate a single time delay given several datasets for the same quasar. Read More

A star on a nearly radial trajectory approaching a massive black hole (MBH) gets tidally disrupted if it comes sufficiently close to the MBH. Here we explore what happens to binary stars whose centers of mass approach the MBH on nearly radial orbits. The interaction with the MBH often leads to both stars being disrupted in sequence. Read More

We perform a systematic study to explore the accuracy with which the parameters of intermediate-mass black-hole binary systems can be measured from their gravitational wave (GW) signatures using second-generation GW detectors. We make use of the most recent reduced-order models containing inspiral, merger and ringdown signals of aligned-spin effective-one-body waveforms (SEOBNR) to significantly speed up the calculations. We explore the phenomenology of the measurement accuracies for binaries with total masses between 50 and 500 $M_\odot$ and mass ratios between 0. Read More

We analyze the distinguishability of populations of coalescing binary neutron stars, neutron-star black-hole binaries, and binary black holes, whose gravitational-wave signatures are expected to be observed by the advanced network of ground-based interferometers LIGO and Virgo. We consider population-synthesis predictions for plausible merging binary distributions in mass space, along with measurement accuracy estimates from the main gravitational-wave parameter-estimation pipeline. We find that for our model compact-object binary mass distribution, we can always distinguish binary neutron stars and black-hole--neutron-star binaries, but not necessarily black-hole--neutron-star binaries and binary black holes; however, with a few tens of detections, we can accurately identify the three subpopulations and measure their respective rates. Read More

Once upon a time, predictions for the accuracy of inference on gravitational-wave signals relied on computationally inexpensive but often inaccurate techniques. Recently, the approach has shifted to actual inference on noisy signals with complex stochastic Bayesian methods, at the expense of significant computational cost. Here, we argue that it is often possible to have the best of both worlds: a Bayesian approach that incorporates prior information and correctly marginalizes over uninteresting parameters, providing accurate posterior probability distribution functions, but carried out on a simple grid at a low computational cost, comparable to the inexpensive predictive techniques. Read More

Modern problems in astronomical Bayesian inference require efficient methods for sampling from complex, high-dimensional, often multi-modal probability distributions. Most popular methods, such as Markov chain Monte Carlo sampling, perform poorly on strongly multi-modal probability distributions, rarely jumping between modes or settling on just one mode without finding others. Parallel tempering addresses this problem by sampling simultaneously with separate Markov chains from tempered versions of the target distribution with reduced contrast levels. Read More

The quantity $\eta_\oplus$, the number density of planets per star per logarithmic planetary radius per logarithmic orbital period at one Earth radius and one year period, describes the occurrence of Earth-like extrasolar planets. Here we present a measurement of $\eta_\oplus$ from a parameterised forward model of the (correlated) period-radius distribution and the observational selection function in the most recent (Q17) data release from the Kepler satellite. We find $\eta_\oplus = 3. Read More

Advanced ground-based gravitational-wave (GW) detectors begin operation imminently. Their intended goal is not only to make the first direct detection of GWs, but also to make inferences about the source systems. Binary neutron-star mergers are among the most promising sources. Read More

The Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo gravitational wave (GW) detectors will begin operation in the coming years, with compact binary coalescence events a likely source for the first detections. The gravitational waveforms emitted directly encode information about the sources, including the masses and spins of the compact objects. Recovering the physical parameters of the sources from the GW observations is a key analysis task. Read More

The second generation of gravitational-wave detectors is scheduled to start operations in 2015. Gravitational-wave signatures of compact binary coalescences could be used to accurately test the strong-field dynamical predictions of general relativity. Computationally expensive data analysis pipelines, including TIGER, have been developed to carry out such tests. Read More

We anticipate the first direct detections of gravitational waves (GWs) with Advanced LIGO and Virgo later this decade. Though this groundbreaking technical achievement will be its own reward, a still greater prize could be observations of compact binary mergers in both gravitational and electromagnetic channels simultaneously. During Advanced LIGO and Virgo's first two years of operation, 2015 through 2016, we expect the global GW detector array to improve in sensitivity and livetime and expand from two to three detectors. Read More

Gravitational-wave astronomy seeks to extract information about astrophysical systems from the gravitational-wave signals they emit. For coalescing compact-binary sources this requires accurate model templates for the inspiral and, potentially, the subsequent merger and ringdown. Models with frequency-domain waveforms that terminate abruptly in the sensitive band of the detector are often used for parameter-estimation studies. Read More

If binaries consisting of two 100 Msun black holes exist they would serve as extraordinarily powerful gravitational-wave sources, detectable to redshifts of z=2 with the advanced LIGO/Virgo ground-based detectors. Large uncertainties about the evolution of massive stars preclude definitive rate predictions for mergers of these massive black holes. We show that rates as high as hundreds of detections per year, or as low as no detections whatsoever, are both possible. Read More

The problem of reconstructing the sky position of compact binary coalescences detected via gravitational waves is a central one for future observations with the ground-based network of gravitational-wave laser interferometers, such as Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo. Different techniques for sky localisation have been independently developed. They can be divided in two broad categories: fully coherent Bayesian techniques, which are high-latency and aimed at in-depth studies of all the parameters of a source, including sky position, and "triangulation-based" techniques, which exploit the data products from the search stage of the analysis to provide an almost real-time approximation of the posterior probability density function of the sky location of a detection candidate. Read More

The first detections of gravitational waves from binary neutron star mergers with advanced LIGO and Virgo observatories are anticipated in the next five years. These detections could pave the way for multi-messenger gravitational-wave (GW) and electromagnetic (EM) astronomy if GW triggers are successfully followed up with targeted EM observations. However, GW sky localization is relatively poor, with expected localization areas of ~10--100 square degrees; this presents a challenge for following up GW signals from compact binary mergers. Read More

The development of advanced gravitational wave (GW) observatories, such as Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo, provides impetus to refine theoretical predictions for what these instruments might detect. In particular, with the range increasing by an order of magnitude, the search for GW sources is extending beyond the "local" Universe and out to cosmological distances. Double compact objects (neutron star-neutron star (NS-NS), black hole-neutron star (BH-NS) and black hole-black hole (BH-BH) systems) are considered to be the most promising gravitational wave sources. Read More

The Fisher Information Matrix (FIM) has been the standard approximation to the accuracy of parameter estimation on gravitational-wave signals from merging compact binaries due to its ease-of-use and rapid computation time. While the theoretical failings of this method, such as the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) limit on the validity of the lowest-order expansion and the difficulty of using non-Gaussian priors, are well understood, the practical effectiveness compared to a real parameter estimation technique (e.g. Read More

Detecting a stochastic gravitational wave background, particularly radiation from individually unresolvable super-massive black hole binary systems, is one of the primary targets for Pulsar Timing Arrays. Increasingly more stringent upper limits are being set on these signals under the assumption that the background radiation is isotropic. However, some level of anisotropy may be present and the characterisation of the power at different angular scales carries important information. Read More

Bayesian parameter estimation on gravitational waves from compact binary coalescences (CBCs) typically requires millions of template waveform computations at different values of the parameters describing the binary. Sampling techniques such as Markov chain Monte Carlo and nested sampling evaluate likelihoods, and hence compute template waveforms, serially; thus, the total computational time of the analysis scales linearly with that of template generation. Here we address the issue of rapidly computing the likelihood function of CBC sources with non-spinning components. Read More

Interferometric detectors will very soon give us an unprecedented view of the gravitational-wave sky, and in particular of the explosive and transient Universe. Now is the time to challenge our theoretical understanding of short-duration gravitational-wave signatures from cataclysmic events, their connection to more traditional electromagnetic and particle astrophysics, and the data analysis techniques that will make the observations a reality. This paper summarizes the state of the art, future science opportunities, and current challenges in understanding gravitational-wave transients. Read More

We show how to obtain a Bayesian estimate of the rates or numbers of signal and background events from a set of events when the shapes of the signal and background distributions are known, can be estimated, or approximated; our method works well even if the foreground and background event distributions overlap significantly and the nature of any individual event cannot be determined with any certainty. We give examples of determining the rates of gravitational-wave events in the presence of background triggers from a template bank when noise parameters are known and/or can be fit from the trigger data. We also give an example of determining globular-cluster shape, location, and density from an observation of a stellar field that contains a non-uniform background density of stars superimposed on the cluster stars. Read More

The luminosity distribution of Galactic radio pulsars is believed to be log-normal in form. Applying this functional form to populations of pulsars in globular clusters, we employ Bayesian methods to explore constraints on the mean and standard deviation of the function, as well as the total number of pulsars in the cluster. Our analysis is based on an observed number of pulsars down to some limiting flux density, measurements of flux densities of individual pulsars, as well as diffuse emission from the direction of the cluster. Read More

The detection of an electromagnetic transient which may originate from a binary neutron star merger can increase the probability that a given segment of data from the LIGO-Virgo ground-based gravitational-wave detector network contains a signal from a binary coalescence. Additional information contained in the electromagnetic signal, such as the sky location or distance to the source, can help rule out false alarms, and thus lower the necessary threshold for a detection. Here, we develop a framework for determining how much sensitivity is added to a gravitational-wave search by triggering on an electromagnetic transient. Read More

There are no known double black hole (BH-BH) or black hole-neutron star (BH-NS) systems. We argue that Cyg X-3 is a very likely BH-BH or BH-NS progenitor. This Galactic X-ray binary consists of a compact object, wind-fed by a Wolf-Rayet (WR) type companion. Read More

Studies of the Galactic population of radio pulsars have shown that their luminosity distribution appears to be log-normal in form. We investigate some of the consequences that occur when one applies this functional form to populations of pulsars in globular clusters. We use Bayesian methods to explore constraints on the mean and standard deviation of the luminosity function, as well as the total number of pulsars, given an observed sample of pulsars down to some limiting flux density, accounting for measurements of flux densities of individual pulsars as well as diffuse emission from the direction of the cluster. Read More

The last decade of observational and theoretical developments in stellar and binary evolution provides an opportunity to incorporate major improvements to the predictions from populations synthesis models. We compute the Galactic merger rates for NS-NS, BH-NS, and BH-BH mergers with the StarTrack code. The most important revisions include: updated wind mass loss rates (allowing for stellar mass black holes up to $80 \msun$), a realistic treatment of the common envelope phase (a process that can affect merger rates by 2--3 orders of magnitude), and a qualitatively new neutron star/black hole mass distribution (consistent with the observed "mass gap"). Read More

The detection of gravitational waves from the inspiral of a neutron star or stellar-mass black hole into an intermediate-mass black hole (IMBH) promises an entirely new look at strong-field gravitational physics. Gravitational waves from these intermediate-mass-ratio inspirals (IMRIs), systems with mass ratios from ~10:1 to ~100:1, may be detectable at rates of up to a few tens per year by Advanced LIGO/Virgo and will encode a signature of the central body's spacetime. Direct observation of the spacetime will allow us to use the "no-hair" theorem of general relativity to determine if the IMBH is a Kerr black hole (or some more exotic object, e. Read More

By 2015 the advanced versions of the gravitational-wave detectors Virgo and LIGO will be online. They will collect data in coincidence with enough sensitivity to potentially deliver multiple detections of gravitation waves from inspirals of compact-object binaries. This work is focused on understanding the effects introduced by uncertainties in the calibration of the interferometers. Read More

We discuss two approaches to searches for gravitational-wave (GW) and electromagnetic (EM) counterparts of binary neutron star mergers. The first approach relies on triggering archival searches of GW detector data based on detections of EM transients. We introduce a quantitative approach to evaluate the improvement to GW detector reach due to the extra information gained from the EM transient and the increased confidence in the presence of a signal from a binary merger. Read More

We investigate a novel approach to measuring the Hubble constant using gravitational-wave (GW) signals from compact binaries by exploiting the narrowness of the distribution of masses of the underlying neutron-star population. Gravitational-wave observations with a network of detectors will permit a direct, independent measurement of the distance to the source systems. If the redshift of the source is known, these inspiraling double-neutron-star binary systems can be used as standard sirens to extract cosmological information. Read More

One of the goals of gravitational-wave astronomy is simultaneous detection of gravitational-wave signals from merging compact-object binaries and the electromagnetic transients from these mergers. With the next generation of advanced ground-based gravitational wave detectors under construction, we examine the benefits of the proposed extension of the detector network to include a fourth site in Australia in addition to the network of Hanford, Livingston and Cascina sites. Using Bayesian parameter-estimation analyses of simulated gravitational-wave signals from a range of coalescing-binary locations and orientations, we study the improvement in parameter estimation. Read More

Selection among alternative theoretical models given an observed data set is an important challenge in many areas of physics and astronomy. Reversible-jump Markov chain Monte Carlo (RJMCMC) is an extremely powerful technique for performing Bayesian model selection, but it suffers from a fundamental difficulty: it requires jumps between model parameter spaces, but cannot efficiently explore both parameter spaces at once. Thus, a naive jump between parameter spaces is unlikely to be accepted in the MCMC algorithm and convergence is correspondingly slow. Read More

We perform a Bayesian analysis of the mass distribution of stellar-mass black holes using the observed masses of 15 low-mass X-ray binary systems undergoing Roche lobe overflow and five high-mass, wind-fed X-ray binary systems. Using Markov Chain Monte Carlo calculations, we model the mass distribution both parametrically---as a power law, exponential, gaussian, combination of two gaussians, or log-normal distribution---and non-parametrically---as histograms with varying numbers of bins. We provide confidence bounds on the shape of the mass distribution in the context of each model and compare the models with each other by calculating their relative Bayesian evidence as supported by the measurements, taking into account the number of degrees of freedom of each model. Read More

Merging compact binaries are the most viable and best studied candidates for gravitational wave (GW) detection by the fully operational network of ground-based observatories. In anticipation of the first detections, the expected distribution of GW sources in the local universe is of considerable interest. Here we investigate the full phase space distribution of coalescing compact binaries at $z = 0$ using dark matter simulations of structure formation. Read More

The next generation of ground-based gravitational-wave detectors are likely to observe gravitational waves from the coalescences of compact-objects binaries. We describe the state of the art for predictions of the rate of compact-binary coalescences and report on initial efforts to develop a framework for converting gravitational-wave observations into improved constraints on astrophysical parameters. Read More

Future ground-based and space-borne interferometric gravitational-wave detectors may capture between tens and thousands of binary coalescence events per year. There is a significant and growing body of work on the estimation of astrophysically relevant parameters, such as masses and spins, from the gravitational-wave signature of a single event. This paper introduces a robust Bayesian framework for combining the parameter estimates for multiple events into a parameter distribution of the underlying event population. Read More

We discuss the capability of a third-generation ground-based detector such as the Einstein Telescope to detect mergers of intermediate-mass black holes that may have formed through runaway stellar collisions in globular clusters. We find that detection rates of 500 events per year are plausible. Read More