Document Type


Publication Date



Detection of a gravitational-wave stochastic background via ground or space-based gravitational-wave detectors requires the cross correlation of the response of two or more independent detectors. The cross correlation involves a frequency-dependent factor—the so-called overlap reduction function or HellingsDowns curve—that depends on the relative geometry of each detector pair, i.e., the detector separations and the relative orientation of their antenna patterns (beams). An incorrect formulation of this geometrical factor has appeared in the literature, leading to incorrect conclusions regarding the sensitivity of proposed detectors to a stochastic gravitational-wave background. To rectify these errors and as a reference for future work we provide here a complete, first-principles derivation of the overlap reduction function and assess the nature of the errors associated with the use of the incorrect expression that has appeared in the literature. We describe the behavior of the overlap reduction function in different limiting regimes, and show how the difference between the correct and incorrect expressions can be understood physically.


Copyright 2009 The American Physical Society

Publication Title

Physical Review D





To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.