Date of Completion

Spring 5-1-2022

Thesis Advisor(s)

Jonathan Trump; Megan Davis

Honors Major



Astrophysics and Astronomy


Supermassive black hole (SMBH) binaries can be produced by galaxy mergers and are important sources of gravitational waves. Although several binary candidates have been identified in previous work, none have yet been fully confirmed. These pairs are difficult to detect, since single accreting SMBHs can have pseudo-periodic lightcurves due to stochastic noise that can mimic the signature of binary SMBHs. The aforementioned lightcurves are the detections we classify as ”false-positive.” The Vera Rubin Observatory (VRO) will be a powerful new tool for detecting binary SMBHs. We determine the false-positive binary detection rate for VRO by attempting to recover sinusoidal binary signals, represented by either a smooth sine wave or a sawtooth wave, that lie
within simulated lightcurves. In this project, we simulated over four million lightcurves for VRO and have applied computationally inexpensive analysis methods to recover the simulated signals. Understanding the false-positive detection rate of these objects by VRO is vital for figuring out which candidates are more or less reliable.