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Gravitational Memory in Binary Black Hole Mergers

Pollney, Denis and Reisswig, Christian (2011) Gravitational Memory in Binary Black Hole Mergers. Astrophysical Journal Letters, 732 (1). Art. No. L13. ISSN 2041-8205.

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In addition to the dominant oscillatory gravitational wave signals produced during binary inspirals, a non-oscillatory component arises from the nonlinear "memory" effect, sourced by the emitted gravitational radiation. The memory grows significantly during the late-inspiral and merger, modifying the signal by an almost step-function profile, and making it difficult to model by approximate methods. We use numerical evolutions of binary black holes (BHs) to evaluate the nonlinear memory during late-inspiral, merger, and ringdown. We identify two main components of the signal: the monotonically growing portion corresponding to the memory, and an oscillatory part which sets in roughly at the time of merger and is due to the BH ringdown. Counterintuitively, the ringdown is most prominent for models with the lowest total spin. Thus, the case of maximally spinning BHs anti-aligned to the orbital angular momentum exhibits the highest signal-to-noise ratio (S/N) for interferometric detectors. The largest memory offset, however, occurs for highly spinning BHs, with an estimated value of h^(tot)_(20) ≃ 0.24 in the maximally spinning case. These results are central to determining the detectability of nonlinear memory through pulsar timing array measurements.

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Additional Information:© 2011 American Astronomical Society. Received 2010 April 30; accepted 2010 November 4; published 2010 April 11. The authors thank Marc Favata, Ian Hinder, Sascha Husa, and Christian D. Ott for helpful input. This work is supported by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung and the National Science Foundation under grant numbers AST-0855535 and OCI-0905046. D.P. has been supported by grants CSD2007- 00042, FPA-2007-60220, and FPA2010-16495 of the Spanish Ministry of Science. Computations were performed on the Teragrid (allocation TG-MCA02N014), the LONI network (, at LRZ München, the Barcelona Supercomputing Center, and at the Albert-Einstein-Institut.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Bundesministerium für Bildung und ForschungUNSPECIFIED
Spanish Ministry of ScienceCSD2007- 00042
Spanish Ministry of ScienceFPA-2007-60220
Spanish Ministry of ScienceFPA2010-16495
Subject Keywords:black hole physics; gravitation; gravitational waves
Classification Code:PACS: 97.60.Lf ; 95.30.Sf
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20110812-151507084
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Official Citation:Gravitational Memory in Binary Black Hole Mergers Denis Pollney and Christian Reisswig 2011 ApJ 732 L13
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:24840
Deposited By: Jason Perez
Deposited On:12 Aug 2011 23:02
Last Modified:29 Aug 2014 14:46

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