Search for Long-Duration Transient Gravitational Waves Associated with Magnetar Bursts during LIGO’s Sixth Science Run
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Soft gamma repeaters (SGRs) and anomalous X-ray pulsars are thought to be neutron stars with strong magnetic fields, called magnetars, which emit intermittent bursts of hard X-rays and soft gamma rays. Three highly energetic bursts, known as giant flares, have been observed originating from three different SGRs, the latest and most energetic of which occurred on December 27, 2004, from the SGR with the largest estimated magnetic field, SGR 1806-20. Modulations in the X-ray tails of giant flares may be caused by global seismic oscillations. Non-radial oscillations of the dense neutron star matter could emit gravitational waves powered by the magnetar's magnetic energy reservoir. This analysis searched for long-duration transient gravitational waves associated with three magnetar bursts that occurred during LIGO's sixth science run, from July 7, 2009 to October 20, 2010. The search results were consistent with the calculated background, and 90% confidence upper limits on the possible undetected gravitational wave energy were found.