Thursday, January 31, 2013
Physics Research Conference
Exploring the Collision of two Black Holes
Mark A. Scheel, Caltech
Gravitational-wave detectors such as LIGO are expected to be regularly detecting waves from astrophysical phenomena within a few years. A key source of these gravitational waves is a binary system consisting of two black holes in orbit around each other. Our collaboration has developed a numerical code that accurately solves Einstein's equations on a supercomputer; this code can follow in detail the orbit of two black holes, the decay of this orbit via energy loss to gravitational radiation, the collision and merger of the two black holes into one larger black hole, and the relaxation of this remnant black hole to a quiescent state. We discuss how we are using this code to investigate the topology of dynamical event horizons, the strong-field dynamics of black hole collisions, and the generation of gravitational waves. We discuss how numerical relativity can assist gravitational-wave observations to learn about gravitational-wave sources such as black hole binaries.