Probability distribution of astrophysical gravitational-wave background fluctuations

Yonadav Barry Ginat, Vincent Desjacques, Robert Reischke, Hagai Perets

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The coalescence of compact binary stars is expected to produce a stochastic background of gravitational waves (GWs) observable with future GW detectors. Such backgrounds are usually characterized by their power spectrum as a function of the frequency. Here, we present a method to calculate the full one-point distribution of strain fluctuations. We focus on time series data, but our approach generalizes to the frequency domain. We illustrate how this probability distribution can be evaluated numerically. In addition, we derive accurate analytical asymptotic expressions for the large strain tail, which demonstrate that it is dominated by the nearest source. As an application, we calculate the distribution of strain fluctuations for the astrophysical GW background produced by binary mergers of compact stars in the Universe, and the distribution of the observed confusion background obtained upon subtracting bright, resolved sources from the signal. We quantify the extent to which they deviate from a Gaussian distribution. Our approach could be useful for the spectral shape reconstruction of stochastic GW backgrounds.

Original languageEnglish
Article number083501
JournalPhysical Review D
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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