Sensitivity curves for searches for gravitational-wave backgrounds

Eric Thrane, Joseph D. Romano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

232 Scopus citations


We propose a graphical representation of detector sensitivity curves for stochastic gravitational-wave backgrounds that takes into account the increase in sensitivity that comes from integrating over frequency in addition to integrating over time. This method is valid for backgrounds that have a power-law spectrum in the analysis band. We call these graphs "power-law integrated curves." For simplicity, we consider cross-correlation searches for unpolarized and isotropic stochastic backgrounds using two or more detectors. We apply our method to construct power-law integrated sensitivity curves for second-generation ground-based detectors such as Advanced LIGO, space-based detectors such as LISA and the Big Bang Observer, and timing residuals from a pulsar timing array. The code used to produce these plots is available at for researchers interested in constructing similar sensitivity curves.

Original languageEnglish
Article number124032
JournalPhysical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 12 2013


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