Journal Article

Detecting gravitational wave emission from the known accreting neutron stars

Anna L. Watts, Badri Krishnan, Lars Bildsten and Bernard F. Schutz

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 389, issue 2, pages 839-868
Published in print September 2008 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online September 2008 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Detecting gravitational wave emission from the known accreting neutron stars

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Detection of gravitational waves from accreting neutron stars (NSs) in our Galaxy, due to ellipticity or internal oscillation, would be a breakthrough in our understanding of compact objects and explain the absence of NSs rotating near the break-up limit. Direct detection, however, poses a formidable challenge. Using the current data available on the properties of the accreting NSs in low-mass X-ray binaries (LMXBs), we quantify the detectability for the known accreting NSs, considering various emission scenarios and taking into account the negative impact of parameter uncertainty on the data analysis process. Only a few of the persistently bright NSs accreting at rates near the Eddington limit are detectable by Advanced LIGO if they are emitting gravitational waves at a rate matching the torque from accretion. A larger fraction of the known population is detectable if the spin and orbital parameters are known in advance, especially with the narrow-band Advanced LIGO. We identify the most promising targets, and list specific actions that would lead to significant improvements in detection probability. These include astronomical observations (especially for unknown orbital periods), improvements in data analysis algorithms and capabilities, and further detector development.

Keywords: accretion, accretion discs; gravitational waves; stars: neutron; stars: rotation; X-rays: binaries; X-rays: bursts

Journal Article.  26783 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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