The PyCBC search for gravitational waves from compact binary coalescence

Samantha A. Usman, Alexander H. Nitz, Ian W. Harry, Christopher M. Biwer, Duncan A. Brown, Miriam Cabero, Collin D. Capano, Tito Dal Canton, Thomas Dent, Stephen Fairhurst, Marcel S. Kehl, Drew Keppel, Badri Krishnan, Amber Lenon, Andrew Lundgren, Alex B. Nielsen, Larne P. Pekowsky, Harald P. Pfeiffer, Peter R. Saulson, Matthew WestJoshua L. Willis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

405 Scopus citations


We describe the PyCBC search for gravitational waves from compact-object binary coalescences in advanced gravitational-wave detector data. The search was used in the first Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) observing run and unambiguously identified two black hole binary mergers, GW150914 and GW151226. At its core, the PyCBC search performs a matched-filter search for binary merger signals using a bank of gravitational-wave template waveforms. We provide a complete description of the search pipeline including the steps used to mitigate the effects of noise transients in the data, identify candidate events and measure their statistical significance. The analysis is able to measure false-alarm rates as low as one per million years, required for confident detection of signals. Using data from initial LIGOs sixth science run, we show that the new analysis reduces the background noise in the search, giving a 30% increase in sensitive volume for binary neutron star systems over previous searches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number215004
JournalClassical and Quantum Gravity
Issue number21
StatePublished - Oct 7 2016


  • compact binaries
  • gravitational waves
  • search pipeline

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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