TY - JOUR

T1 - Tracking the precession of compact binaries from their gravitational-wave signal

AU - Schmidt, Patricia

AU - Hannam, Mark

AU - Husa, Sascha

AU - Ajith, P.

PY - 2011/7/9

Y1 - 2011/7/9

N2 - 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.

AB - 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.

UR - http://inspirehep.net/record/881253

U2 - 10.1103/PhysRevD.84.024046

DO - 10.1103/PhysRevD.84.024046

M3 - Article

VL - 84

JO - Physical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology

JF - Physical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology

SN - 1550-7998

M1 - 024046

ER -