The hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy catalog approach for dark siren gravitational-wave cosmology

Jonathan R. Gair, Archisman Ghosh, Rachel Gray, Daniel E. Holz, Simone Mastrogiovanni, Suvodip Mukherjee, Antonella Palmese, Nicola Tamanini, Tessa Baker, Freija Beirnaert, Maciej Bilicki, Hsin Yu Chen, Gergely Dálya, Jose Maria Ezquiaga, Will M. Farr, Maya Fishbach, Juan Garcia-Bellido, Tathagata Ghosh, Hsiang Yu Huang, Christos KarathanasisKonstantin Leyde, Ignacio Magaña Hernandez, Johannes Noller, Gregoire Pierra, Peter Raffai, Antonio Enea Romano, Monica Seglar-Arroyo, Danièle A. Steer, Cezary Turski, Maria Paola Vaccaro, Sergio Andrés Vallejo-Peña

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We outline the “dark siren” galaxy catalog method for cosmological inference using gravitational wave (GW) standard sirens, clarifying some common misconceptions in the implementation of this method. When a confident transient electromagnetic counterpart to a GW event is unavailable, the identification of a unique host galaxy is in general challenging. Instead, as originally proposed by Schutz, one can consult a galaxy catalog and implement a dark siren statistical approach incorporating all potential host galaxies within the localization volume. Trott & Huterer recently claimed that this approach results in a biased estimate of the Hubble constant, H0, when implemented on mock data, even if optimistic assumptions are made. We demonstrate explicitly that, as previously shown by multiple independent groups, the dark siren statistical method leads to an unbiased posterior when the method is applied to the data correctly. We highlight common sources of error possible to make in the generation of mock data and implementation of the statistical framework, including the mismodeling of selection effects and inconsistent implementations of the Bayesian framework, which can lead to a spurious bias.

Original languageEnglish
Article number22
Number of pages15
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2023


  • gr-qc
  • astro-ph.CO

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