Journal article Open Access

Gravitational wave observations, distance measurement uncertainties, and cosmology

Chassande-Mottin, E.; Leyde, K.; Mastrogiovanni, S.; Steer, D. A

Gravitational waves from the coalescence of compact binaries, together with an associated electromagnetic counterpart, are ideal probes of cosmological models. As demonstrated with GW170817, such multimessenger observations allow one to use the source as a standard siren, the analog of standard candles in conventional astronomy, in order to measure cosmological parameters such as the Hubble constant. No cosmological ladder is needed to estimate the source luminosity distance from the detected gravitational waves. The error on the luminosity distance plays a crucial role in the error budget for the inference of the Hubble constant. In this paper, we provide analytic expressions for the statistical errors on the luminosity distance inferred from gravitational wave data as a function of the sky position and the detector network. In particular, we take into account degeneracy in the parameter space of the gravitational waveform showing that in certain conditions on the gravitational-wave detector network and the source sky position it may not be possible to estimate the luminosity distance of the source. Our analytic approximants show a good agreement with the uncertainties measured with Bayesian samplers and simulated data. We also present implications for the estimation error on the Hubble constant.

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