Coincident Detection Significance in Multimessenger Astronomy

G Ashton, E Burns, T. Dal Canton, T. Dent, Heinz-Bernd Eggenstein, Alex B Nielsen, R. Prix, Michal Was, Shuang J Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


We derive a Bayesian criterion for assessing whether signals observed in two separate data sets originate from a common source. The Bayes factor for a common versus unrelated origin of signals includes an overlap integral of the posterior distributions over the common-source parameters. Focusing on multimessenger gravitational-wave astronomy, we apply the method to the spatial and temporal association of independent gravitational-wave and electromagnetic (or neutrino) observations. As an example, we consider the coincidence between the recently discovered gravitational-wave signal GW170817 from a binary neutron star merger and the gamma-ray burst GRB 170817A: we find that the common-source model is enormously favored over a model describing them as unrelated signals.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6
Number of pages7
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • gamma-ray burst: general
  • gravitational waves
  • methods: statistical
  • neutrinos
  • stars: neutron

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