A Caltech Library Service

Modeling the source of GW150914 with targeted numerical-relativity simulations

Lovelace, Geoffrey and Lousto, Carlos O. and Healy, James and Scheel, Mark A. and Garcia, Alyssa and O’Shaughnessy, Richard and Boyle, Michael and Campanelli, Manuela and Hemberger, Daniel A. and Kidder, Lawrence E. and Pfeiffer, Harald P. and Szilágyi, Béla and Teukolsky, Saul A. and Zlochower, Yosef (2016) Modeling the source of GW150914 with targeted numerical-relativity simulations. Classical and Quantum Gravity, 33 (24). Art. No. 244002. ISSN 0264-9381.

[img] PDF - Submitted Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


In fall of 2015, the two LIGO detectors measured the gravitational wave signal GW150914, which originated from a pair of merging black holes (Abbott et al Virgo, LIGO Scientific 2016 Phys. Rev. Lett. 116 061102). In the final 0.2 s (about 8 gravitational-wave cycles) before the amplitude reached its maximum, the observed signal swept up in amplitude and frequency, from 35 Hz to 150 Hz. The theoretical gravitational-wave signal for merging black holes, as predicted by general relativity, can be computed only by full numerical relativity, because analytic approximations fail near the time of merger. Moreover, the nearly-equal masses, moderate spins, and small number of orbits of GW150914 are especially straightforward and efficient to simulate with modern numerical-relativity codes. In this paper, we report the modeling of GW150914 with numerical-relativity simulations, using black-hole masses and spins consistent with those inferred from LIGO's measurement (Abbott et al LIGO Scientific Collaboration, Virgo Collaboration 2016 Phys. Rev. Lett. 116 241102). In particular, we employ two independent numerical-relativity codes that use completely different analytical and numerical methods to model the same merging black holes and to compute the emitted gravitational waveform; we find excellent agreement between the waveforms produced by the two independent codes. These results demonstrate the validity, impact, and potential of current and future studies using rapid-response, targeted numerical-relativity simulations for better understanding gravitational-wave observations.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Lovelace, Geoffrey0000-0002-7084-1070
Kidder, Lawrence E.0000-0001-5392-7342
Pfeiffer, Harald P.0000-0001-9288-519X
Teukolsky, Saul A.0000-0001-9765-4526
Additional Information:© 2016 IOP Publishing Ltd. Received 18 July 2016. Accepted 28 October 2016. Published 18 November 2016. We are pleased to acknowledge Joshua R Smith and Jocelyn S Read for helpful discussions of this work and Patricia Schmidt for helpful discussions and for helping us to implement the numerical-relativity injection HDF5 file format [113] she developed with Ian Harry, which facilitated some of the comparisons in this paper. We gratefully acknowledge the NSF for financial support from grant Nos. PHY-0969855, PHY-1212426, PHY-1305730, PHY-1306125, PHY-1307489, PHY-1229173, PHY-1404569, PHY-1606522, PHY-1607520, ACI-1550436, AST-1028087, AST-1333129, AST-1333520, OCI-0832606, and DRL-1136221. The authors are also grateful for support from the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, which is supported by NSF grant No. HRD-1302873 and the California State University campuses and Office of the Chancellor, and for support from the Sherman Fairchild Foundation, the NSERC of Canada, the Canada Research Chairs Program, and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. Computational resources were provided by the ORCA cluster at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF), supported by CSUF, NSF grant No. PHY-1429873, and the Research Corporation for Science Advancement; by XSEDE allocations TG-PHY060027N and TG-PHY990007N; by NewHorizons and BlueSky Clusters at Rochester Institute of Technology, which were supported by NSF grant Nos. PHY-0722703, DMS-0820923, AST-1028087, and PHY-1229173; by the GPC supercomputer at the SciNet HPC Consortium [114], which is funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) under the auspices of Compute Canada, the Government of Ontario, the Ontario Research Fund (ORF)—Research Excellence, and the University of Toronto; and by the Zwicky cluster at Caltech, which is supported by the Sherman Fairchild Foundation and by NSF award PHY-0960291.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Sherman Fairchild FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)UNSPECIFIED
Canada Research Chairs ProgramUNSPECIFIED
Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)UNSPECIFIED
California State University, FullertonUNSPECIFIED
Research CorporationUNSPECIFIED
Canada Foundation for InnovationUNSPECIFIED
Ontario Research Fund-Research ExcellenceUNSPECIFIED
University of TorontoUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:24
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20161118-110758994
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Geoffrey Lovelace et al 2016 Class. Quantum Grav. 33 244002
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:72159
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:18 Nov 2016 22:11
Last Modified:09 Mar 2020 13:19

Repository Staff Only: item control page