Accuracy of gravitational waveform models for observing neutron-star--black-hole binaries in Advanced LIGO

Alexander H. Nitz, Andrew Lundgren, Duncan A. Brown, Evan Ochsner, Drew Keppel, Ian W. Harry

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Gravitational waves radiated by the coalescence of compact-object binaries containing a neutron star and a black hole are one of the most interesting sources for the ground-based gravitational-wave observatories Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo. Advanced LIGO will be sensitive to the inspiral of a $1.4\, M_\odot$ neutron star into a $10\,M_\odot$ black hole to a maximum distance of $\sim 900$ Mpc. Achieving this sensitivity and extracting the physics imprinted in observed signals requires accurate modeling of the binary to construct template waveforms. In a NSBH binary, the black hole may have significant angular momentum (spin), which affects the phase evolution of the emitted gravitational waves. We investigate the ability of post-Newtonian (PN) templates to model the gravitational waves emitted during the inspiral phase of NSBH binaries. We restrict the black hole's spin to be aligned with the orbital angular momentum and compare several approximants. We examine restricted amplitude waveforms that are accurate to 3.5PN order in the orbital dynamics and complete to 2.5PN order in the spin dynamics. We also consider PN waveforms with the recently derived 3.5PN spin-orbit and 3PN spin-orbit tail corrections. We compare these approximants to the effective-one-body model. For all these models, large disagreements start at low to moderate black hole spins, particularly for binaries where the spin is anti-aligned with the orbital angular momentum. We show that this divergence begins in the early inspiral at $v \sim 0.2$ for $\chi_{BH} \sim 0.4$. PN spin corrections beyond those currently known will be required for optimal detection searches and to measure the parameters of neutron star--black hole binaries. While this complicates searches, the strong dependence of the gravitational-wave signal on the spin dynamics will make it possible to extract significant astrophysical information.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPhysical Review D
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 26 Dec 2013


  • gr-qc
  • astro-ph.CO
  • astro-ph.HE


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