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  1. Abstract

    Many astronomical surveys are limited by the brightness of the sources, and gravitational-wave searches are no exception. The detectability of gravitational waves from merging binaries is affected by the mass and spin of the constituent compact objects. To perform unbiased inference on the distribution of compact binaries, it is necessary to account for this selection effect, which is known as Malmquist bias. Since systematic error from selection effects grows with the number of events, it will be increasingly important over the coming years to accurately estimate the observational selection function for gravitational-wave astronomy. We employ density estimation methods to accurately and efficiently compute the compact binary coalescence selection function. We introduce a simple pre-processing method, which significantly reduces the complexity of the required machine-learning models. We demonstrate that our method has smaller statistical errors at comparable computational cost than the method currently most widely used allowing us to probe narrower distributions of spin magnitudes. The currently used method leaves 10%–50% of the interesting black hole spin models inaccessible; our new method can probe >99% of the models and has a lower uncertainty for >80% of the models.

  2. Abstract

    Gravitational-wave observations of binary neutron star mergers provide valuable information about neutron star structure and the equation of state of dense nuclear matter. Numerous methods have been proposed to analyze the population of observed neutron stars, and previous work has demonstrated the necessity of jointly fitting the astrophysical distribution and the equation of state in order to accurately constrain the equation of state. In this work, we introduce a new framework to simultaneously infer the distribution of binary neutron star masses and the nuclear equation of state using Gaussian mixture model density estimates, which mitigates some of the limitations previously used methods suffer from. Using our method, we reproduce previous projections for the expected precision of our joint mass distribution and equation-of-state inference with tens of observations. We also show that mismodeling the equation of state can bias our inference of the neutron star mass distribution. While we focus on neutron star masses and matter effects, our method is widely applicable to population inference problems.

  3. The collection of individually resolvable gravitational wave (GW) events makes up a tiny fraction of all GW signals that reach our detectors, while most lie below the confusion limit and are undetected. Similarly to voices in a crowded room, the collection of unresolved signals gives rise to a background that is well-described via stochastic variables and, hence, referred to as the stochastic GW background (SGWB). In this review, we provide an overview of stochastic GW signals and characterise them based on features of interest such as generation processes and observational properties. We then review the current detection strategies for stochastic backgrounds, offering a ready-to-use manual for stochastic GW searches in real data. In the process, we distinguish between interferometric measurements of GWs, either by ground-based or space-based laser interferometers, and timing-residuals analyses with pulsar timing arrays (PTAs). These detection methods have been applied to real data both by large GW collaborations and smaller research groups, and the most recent and instructive results are reported here. We close this review with an outlook on future observations with third generation detectors, space-based interferometers, and potential noninterferometric detection methods proposed in the literature.
  4. Abstract We search for signatures of gravitational lensing in the gravitational-wave signals from compact binary coalescences detected by Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) and Advanced Virgo during O3a, the first half of their third observing run. We study: (1) the expected rate of lensing at current detector sensitivity and the implications of a non-observation of strong lensing or a stochastic gravitational-wave background on the merger-rate density at high redshift; (2) how the interpretation of individual high-mass events would change if they were found to be lensed; (3) the possibility of multiple images due to strong lensing by galaxies or galaxy clusters; and (4) possible wave-optics effects due to point-mass microlenses. Several pairs of signals in the multiple-image analysis show similar parameters and, in this sense, are nominally consistent with the strong lensing hypothesis. However, taking into account population priors, selection effects, and the prior odds against lensing, these events do not provide sufficient evidence for lensing. Overall, we find no compelling evidence for lensing in the observed gravitational-wave signals from any of these analyses.