AAS 207th Meeting, 8-12 January 2006
Session 143 Gravity Waves
Poster, Wednesday, 9:20am-6:30pm, January 11, 2006, Exhibit Hall

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[143.03] Modeling Gravitational Radiation Waveforms from Black Hole Mergers.

J.G. Baker, J.M. Centrella, D.-I. Choi, M. Koppitz, J.R. van Meter (NASA-GSFC)

Gravitational radiation from merging binary black hole systems is anticipated as a key source for gravitational wave observations. Ground-based instruments, such as the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) may observe mergers of stellar-scale black holes, while the space-based Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) observatory will be sensitive to mergers of massive galactic-center black holes over a broad range of mass scales. These cataclysmic events may emit an enormous amount of energy in a brief time. Gravitational waves from comparable mass mergers carry away a few percent of the system's mass-energy in just a few wave cycles, with peak gravitational wave luminosities on the order of 1023 LSun. Optimal analysis and interpretation of merger observation data will depend on developing a detailed understanding, based on general relativistic modeling, of the radiation waveforms. We discuss recent progress in modeling radiation from equal mass mergers using numerical simulations of Einstein's gravitational field equations, known as numerical relativity. Our simulations utilize Adaptive Mesh Refinement (AMR) to allow high-resolution near the black holes while simultaneously keeping the outer boundary of the computational domain far from the black holes, and making it possible to read out gravitational radiation waveforms in the weak-field wave zone. We discuss the results from simulations beginning with the black holes orbiting near the system's innermost stable orbit, comparing the recent simulations with earlier ''Lazarus'' waveform estimates based on an approximate hybrid numerical/perturbative technique.

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