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Tracking the precession of compact binaries from their gravitational-wave signal

Schmidt, Patricia, Hannam, Mark ORCID:, Husa, Sascha and Ajith, P. 2011. Tracking the precession of compact binaries from their gravitational-wave signal. Physical Review D 84 (2) , 024046. 10.1103/PhysRevD.84.024046

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We present a simple method to track the precession of a black-hole-binary system during the inspiral, using only information from the gravitational-wave (GW) signal. Our method consists of locating the frame from which the magnitudes of the (ℓ=2, |m|=2) modes are maximized, which we denote the “quadrupole-aligned” frame. We demonstrate the efficacy of this method when applied to waveforms from numerical simulations. In the test case of an equal-mass nonspinning binary, our method locates the direction of the orbital angular momentum to within (Δθ,Δφ)=(0.05°,0.2°). We then apply the method to a q=M2/M1=3 binary that exhibits significant precession. In general, a spinning binary’s orbital angular momentum L is not orthogonal to the orbital plane. Evidence that our method locates the direction of L rather than the normal of the orbital plane is provided by comparison with post-Newtonian results. Also, we observe that it accurately reproduces similar higher-mode amplitudes to a comparable non-precessing binary, and that the frequency of the (ℓ=2, |m|=2) modes is consistent with the “total frequency” of the binary’s motion. The simple form of the quadrupole-aligned waveform may be useful in attempts to analytically model the inspiral-merger-ringdown signal of precessing binaries, and in standardizing the representation of waveforms for studies of accuracy and consistency of source modelling efforts, both numerical and analytical.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Advanced Research Computing @ Cardiff (ARCCA)
Physics and Astronomy
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Additional Information: 12 pages.
Publisher: American Physical Society
ISSN: 1550-7998
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2022 10:53

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