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Towards models of gravitational waveforms from generic binaries: II. Modelling precession effects with a single effective precession parameter

Schmidt, Patricia, Ohme, Frank and Hannam, Mark 2015. Towards models of gravitational waveforms from generic binaries: II. Modelling precession effects with a single effective precession parameter. Physical Review D 91 (2) , 024043. 10.1103/PhysRevD.91.024043

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Abstract

Gravitational waves (GWs) emitted by generic black-hole binaries show a rich structure that directly reflects the complex dynamics introduced by the precession of the orbital plane, which poses a real challenge to the development of generic waveform models. Recent progress in modelling these signals relies on an approximate decoupling between the nonprecessing secular inspiral and a precession-induced rotation. However, the latter depends in general on all physical parameters of the binary which makes modelling efforts as well as understanding parameter-estimation prospects prohibitively complex. Here we show that the dominant precession effects can be captured by a reduced set of spin parameters. Specifically, we introduce a single effective precession spin parameter, χp, which is defined from the spin components that lie in the orbital plane at some (arbitrary) instant during the inspiral. We test the efficacy of this parameter by considering binary inspiral configurations specified by the physical parameters of a corresponding nonprecessing-binary configuration (total mass, mass ratio, and spin components (anti)parallel to the orbital angular momentum), plus the effective precession spin applied to the larger black hole. We show that for an overwhelming majority of random precessing configurations, the precession dynamics during the inspiral are well approximated by our equivalent configurations. Our results suggest that in the comparable-mass regime waveform models with only three spin parameters faithfully represent generic waveforms, which has practical implications for the prospects of GW searches, parameter estimation and the numerical exploration of the precessing-binary parameter space.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Advanced Research Computing @ Cardiff (ARCCA)
Physics and Astronomy
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Publisher: American Physical Society
ISSN: 1550-7998
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 12 September 2017
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2019 15:16
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/69868

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