predictions for the LIGO event

The twitters are ablaze with rumors about the announcement from the LIGO project scheduled for tomorrow. We discussed this in group meeting today, with no embargo-breaking by anyone. That is, on purely physical, engineering, sociological, and psychological grounds we made predictions for the press release tomorrow. Here are my best predictions: First, I predict that the total signal-to-noise of any detected black-hole inspiral signal they announce will be greater than 15 in the total data set. That is, I predict that (say) the width of the likelihood function for the overall, scalar signal amplitude will have a half-width that is less than 15 times its mode. Second, I predict that the uncertainty on the sum of the two masses (that is, the total mass of the inspiral system, if any is announced) will be dominated by the (large, many hundreds of km/s) uncertainty in the peculiar velocity of the system (in the context that the system lives inside the cosmological world model). Awesome predictions? Perhaps not, but you heard them here first!

[Note to the world: This is not an announcement: I know nothing! This is just a pair of predictions from an outsider.]

We discussed the things that could be learned from any detection of a single black-hole inspiral signal, about star formation, black-hole formation, and galaxies. I think that if the masses of the detected black holes are large, then there are probably interesting things to say about stars or supernovae or star formation.

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