We develop a formalism to calculate the response of a model gravitational wave detector to a quantized gravitational field. Coupling a detector to a quantum field induces stochastic fluctuations ("noise") in the length of the detector arm. The statistical properties of this noise depend on the choice of quantum state of the gravitational field. We characterize the noise for vacuum, coherent, thermal, and squeezed states. For coherent states, corresponding to classical gravitational configurations, we find that the effect of gravitational field quantization is small. However, the standard deviation in the arm length can be enhanced - possibly significantly - when the gravitational field is in a noncoherent state. The detection of this fundamental noise could provide direct evidence for the quantization of gravity and for the existence of gravitons.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)