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 Verifying black hole orbits with gravitational spectroscopy

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Gravitational waves from test masses bound to geodesic orbits of rotating black holes are simulated, using Teukolskys black hole perturbation formalism, for about ten thousand generic orbital configurations. Each binary radiates power exclusively in modes with frequencies that are integer-linear-combinations of the orbits three fundamental frequencies. The following general spectral properties are found with a survey of orbits: i 99% of the radiated power is typically carried by a few hundred modes, and at most by about a thousand modes, ii the dominant frequencies can be grouped into a small number of families defined by fixing two of the three integer frequency multipliers, and iii the specifics of these trends can be qualitatively inferred from the geometry of the orbit under consideration. Detections using triperiodic analytic templates modeled on these general properties would constitute a verification of radiation from an adiabatic sequence of black hole orbits and would recover the evolution of the fundamental orbital frequencies. In an analogy with ordinary spectroscopy, this would compare to observing the Bohr models atomic hydrogen spectrum without being able to rule out alternative atomic theories or nuclei. The suitability of such a detection technique is demonstrated using snapshots computed at 12-hour intervals throughout the last three years before merger of a kludged inspiral. Because of circularization, the number of excited modes decreases as the binary evolves. A hypothetical detection algorithm that tracks mode families dominating the first 12 hours of the inspiral would capture 98% of the total power over the remaining three years.

Author: Steve Drasco



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