Optimizing the choice of analysis method for all-sky searches for continuous gravitational waves with Einstein@Home

Sinéad Walsh, Karl Wette, Maria Alessandra Papa, Reinhard Prix

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    15 Citations (Scopus)


    Rapidly rotating neutron stars are promising sources of continuous gravitational wave radiation for the LIGO and Virgo interferometers. The majority of neutron stars in our galaxy have not been identified with electromagnetic observations. All-sky searches for isolated neutron stars offer the potential to detect gravitational waves from these unidentified sources. The parameter space of these blind all-sky searches, which also cover a large range of frequencies and frequency derivatives, presents a significant computational challenge. Various methods have been designed to perform these searches within the limits of available computing resources. Recently, a search method called Weave has been proposed to achieve template placement with a minimal number of templates. We employ a mock data challenge to assess the ability of this method to recover signals in an all-sky search for unknown neutron stars, and compare its search sensitivity with that of the global correlation transform method (GCT), which has been used for all-sky searches with the Einstein@Home volunteer computing project for a number of years. We find that the Weave method is 14% more sensitive than GCT for an all-sky search on Einstein@Home, with a sensitivity depth of 57.9±0.6 1Hz at 90% detection efficiency, compared to 50.8-1.1+0.7 1Hz for GCT. This corresponds to a 50% increase in the volume of sky where we are sensitive with the Weave search. We also find that the Weave search recovers candidates closer to the true signal position. In the all-sky search studied here the improvement in candidate localization would lead to a factor of 70 reduction in the computing cost required to follow up the same number of candidates. We assess the feasibility of deploying the search on Einstein@Home, and find that Weave requires significantly more memory than is typically available on a volunteer computer. We conclude that, while GCT remains the best choice for deployment on Einstein@Home due to its lower memory requirements, Weave presents significant advantages for the subsequent hierarchical follow-up searches of interesting candidates.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number082004
    JournalPhysical Review D
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2019


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