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Published December 15, 2000 | Published
Journal Article Open

Transition from inspiral to plunge for a compact body in a circular equatorial orbit around a massive, spinning black hole


There are three regimes of gravitational-radiation-reaction-induced inspiral for a compact body with mass μ, in a circular, equatorial orbit around a Kerr black hole with mass M≫μ: (i) the adiabatic inspiral regime, in which the body gradually descends through a sequence of circular, geodesic orbits; (ii) a transition regime, near the innermost stable circular orbit (isco); (iii) the plunge regime, in which the body travels on a geodesic from slightly below the isco into the hole's horizon. This paper gives an analytic treatment of the transition regime and shows that, with some luck, gravitational waves from the transition might be measurable by the space-based LISA mission.

Additional Information

© 2000 The American Physical Society Received 22 February 2000; published 28 November 2000 We thank James Anderson for helpful discussions, Theocharis Apostolatos for checking some details of our analysis, and Sam Finn for computing the numerical entries for E˙ and E˙infinity,2 in Tables I and II, on which many of our other numbers are based. This work was supported in part by NASA grant NAG5-6840, and in view of its potential applications to LIGO, also by NSF grant AST-9731698.

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