Gravitational waves from black hole-neutron star binaries: Effective Fisher matrices and parameter estimation using higher harmonics

Hee Suk Cho, Evan Ochsner, Richard O'Shaughnessy, Chunglee Kim, Chang Hwan Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Inspiralling black hole-neutron star binaries emit a complicated gravitational wave signature, produced by multiple harmonics sourced by their strong local gravitational field and further modulated by the orbital plane's precession. Some features of this complex signal are easily accessible to ground-based interferometers (e.g., the rate of change of frequency), others less so (e.g., the polarization content), and others still are unavailable (e.g., features of the signal out of band). For this reason, an ambiguity function (a diagnostic of dissimilarity) between two such signals varies on many parameter scales and ranges. In this paper, we present a method for computing an approximate, effective Fisher matrix from variations in the ambiguity function on physically pertinent scales which depend on the relevant signal-to-noise ratio. As a concrete example, we explore how higher harmonics improve parameter measurement accuracy. As previous studies suggest, for our fiducial black hole-neutron star binaries and for plausible signal amplitudes, we see that higher harmonics at best marginally improve our ability to measure parameters. For nonprecessing binaries, these Fisher matrices separate into intrinsic (mass, spin) and extrinsic (geometrical) parameters; higher harmonics principally improve our knowledge about the line of sight. For the precessing binaries, the extra information provided by higher harmonics is distributed across several parameters. We provide concrete estimates for measurement accuracy, using coordinates adapted to the precession cone in the detector's sensitive band.

Original languageEnglish
Article number024004
JournalPhysical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2013


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