Constraints on cosmic strings using data from the third Advanced LIGO-Virgo observing run

The LIGO Scientific Collaboration, Virgo Collaboration, KAGRA Collaboration, G. S. Davies, O. Edy, I. W. Harry, D. Keitel, A. P. Lundgren, R. Macas, C. McIsaac, S. Mozzon, L. K. Nuttall, A. R. Williamson

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We search for gravitational-wave signals produced by cosmic strings in the Advanced LIGO and Virgo full O3 dataset. Search results are presented for gravitational waves produced by cosmic string loop features such as cusps, kinks, and, for the first time, kink-kink collisions. A template-based search for short-duration transient signals does not yield a detection. We also use the stochastic gravitational-wave background energy density upper limits derived from the O3 data to constrain the cosmic string tension Gμ as a function of the number of kinks, or the number of cusps, for two cosmic string loop distribution models. Additionally, we develop and test a third model that interpolates between these two models. Our results improve upon the previous LIGO–Virgo constraints on Gμ by 1 to 2 orders of magnitude depending on the model that is tested. In particular, for the one-loop distribution model, we set the most competitive constraints to date: Gμ ≲ 4× 10−15. In the case of cosmic strings formed at the end of inflation in the context of grand unified theories, these results challenge simple inflationary models.
Original languageEnglish
Article number241102
Number of pages19
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number24
Early online date16 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2021


  • gr-qc
  • astro-ph.CO
  • hep-th
  • UKRI
  • STFC


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