Numerical simulations of coalescing black holes with nearly extremal spins: gravitational waveforms and horizon dynamics

09/12/2011 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Geoffrey Lovelace
Speaker affiliation: 
Cornell University
Some accretion models and some observational evidence suggest that black
holes could exist with spins that are nearly extremal (i.e. nearly 1 in
dimensionless units, the theoretical upper limit for stationary black
holes). Coalescing black holes---possibly with nearly extremal spins---are
among the most important sources for current and future gravitational-wave
detectors; when black holes form a binary, spiral together, and coalesce,
the strongly warped spacetime near the holes' horizons and the emitted
gravitational waves can only be computed numerically. Binary black holes
with nearly extremal spins are particularly challenging to simulate
numerically; after summarizing these challenges, I will present results from
two recent simulations with the highest black-hole spins to date: i) a
25.5-orbit inspiral, merger, and ringdown of two holes with equal masses and
spins of magnitude 0.97 aligned with the orbital angular momentum, and ii) a
12.5-orbit inspiral, merger, and ringdown of two holes with equal masses and
spins of magnitude 0.95 antialigned with the orbital angular momentum. I
will present the emitted gravitational waveforms, discuss their accuracy,
and compare them with several approximate waveforms. I will also discuss the
dynamical behavior of the holes' masses, spins, and horizon shapes and

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