Modeling the dynamics and gravitational-wave emission of coalescing binary black holes

Tuesday, April 13, 2010 – 3:15pm
Reiss 502
Prof. Alessandra Buonanno
Department of Physics, University of Maryland

In general relativity, spacetime is a dynamic and elastic entity both influencing and influenced by the distribution of mass and energy that it contains. Solving the two-body problem in general relativity is therefore much more challenging than in Newtonian gravity. Recent developments at the interface between analytical and numerical relativity have deepened our understanding of the two-body problem in general relativity, revealing an intriguing simplicity. I will review those advances, focusing on the most dynamical and non-linear phase of the coalescence of binary black holes — that is, when the two black holes end their long inspiral with a plunge, merge with each other, and leave behind a “ringing” black hole. I will discuss the implications of those advances for the search for gravitational waves – especially with respect to building templates of coalescing black holes, and in astrophysics, to calculating the distribution of recoil velocities of merging black holes.

Host: Paola Barbara