Mapping the Milky Way Galaxy with LISA

photograph of hose mckinnon. Image Credit: URC

Image Credit: URC

Student: Jose A. McKinnon
University of Texas at Brownsville

Major: Physics

Degree Level: Master of Science

Internship Site: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

Mentors: Dr. John Baker and Dr. Jeffrey Livas

Abstract: Gravitational wave detectors in the mHz band (such as the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, or LISA) will observe thousands of compact binaries in the galaxy which can be used to better understand the structure of the Milky Way. To test the effectiveness of LISA to measure the distribution of the galaxy, we simulated the Close White Dwarf Binary (CWDB) gravitational wave sky using different models for the Milky Way. To do so, we have developed a galaxy density distribution modeling code based on the Markov Chain Monte Carlo method. The code uses different distributions to construct realizations of the galaxy. We then use the Fisher Information Matrix to estimate the variance and covariance of the recovered parameters for each detected CWDB. This is the first step toward characterizing the capabilities of space-based gravitational wave detectors to constrain models for galactic structure, such as the size and orientation of the bar in the center of the Milky Way.

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