LIGO GRB searches in the aLIGO Era: An Optimized Burst Database and a New Method for Detecting Intermediate-Duration GWs Open Access
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Starting in the Fall of 2015 the “advanced” Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (aLIGO) will come online and progressively reach a design sensitivity that will enable important discoveries. Initial detections will confirm Einstein’s the- ory of general relativity, and greatly advance our understanding of some of the most energetic events in the universe. Among these are gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), the most relativistic cosmic explosions. Gravitational Wave (GW) searches targeting GRBs can reveal crucial information about their progenitors by clarifying the link between short GRBs and coalescing binary systems of black-holes and/or neutron stars, and the nature of the GRB central engine (magnetar or black hole). In turn, GW data analyses in the aLIGO era will largely benefit from both accurate knowl- edge of GRB electromagnetic properties, and from the development of techniques extending the searches to astrophysically-motivated parameter space regions left un- covered in the pre-aLIGO era. In this work, we address both these needs and present (i) the development of a literature-informed database of electromagnetic observations of GRBs specifically tuned to optimize aLIGO GRB searches; (ii) the adaptation of a cross-correlation search technique originally designed to look for continuous GWs from pulsars, to intermediate-duration GW transients whose detection could answer some of the most intriguing questions on the nature of GRB progenitors.