We review the current status of studies of the coalescence of binary neutron star systems. We begin with a discussion of the formation channels of merging binaries and we discuss the most recent theoretical predictions for merger rates. Next, we turn to the quasi-equilibrium formalisms that are used to study binaries prior to the merger phase and to generate initial data for fully dynamical simulations. The quasi-equilibrium approximation has played a key role in developing our understanding of the physics of binary coalescence and, in particular, of the orbital instability processes that can drive binaries to merger at the end of their lifetimes. We then turn to the numerical techniques used in dynamical simulations, including relativistic formalisms, (magneto-)hydrodynamics, gravitational-wave extraction techniques, and nuclear microphysics treatments. This is followed by a summary of the simulations performed across the field to date, including the most recent results from both fully relativistic and microphysically detailed simulations. Finally, we discuss the likely directions for the field as we transition from the first to the second generation of gravitational-wave interferometers and while supercomputers reach the petascale frontier.
Archive for the ‘Numerical Relativity’ Category
The idea of stable, localized bundles of energy has strong appeal as a model for particles. In the 1950s, John Wheeler envisioned such bundles as smooth configurations of electromagnetic energy that he called geons, but none were found. Instead, particle-like solutions were found in the late 1960s with the addition of a scalar field, and these were given the name boson stars. Since then, boson stars find use in a wide variety of models as sources of dark matter, as black hole mimickers, in simple models of binary systems, and as a tool in finding black holes in higher dimensions with only a single Killing vector. We discuss important varieties of boson stars, their dynamic properties, and some of their uses, concentrating on recent efforts.
by: Jeffrey Winicour
I review the development of numerical evolution codes for general relativity based upon the characteristic initial-value problem. Progress in characteristic evolution is traced from the early stage of 1D feasibility studies to 2D-axisymmetric codes that accurately simulate the oscillations and gravitational collapse of relativistic stars and to current 3D codes that provide pieces of a binary black-hole spacetime. Cauchy codes have now been successful at simulating all aspects of the binary black-hole problem inside an artificially constructed outer boundary. A prime application of characteristic evolution is to extend such simulations to null infinity where the waveform from the binary inspiral and merger can be unambiguously computed. This has now been accomplished by Cauchy-characteristic extraction, where data for the characteristic evolution is supplied by Cauchy data on an extraction worldtube inside the artificial outer boundary. The ultimate application of characteristic evolution is to eliminate the role of this outer boundary by constructing a global solution via Cauchy-characteristic matching. Progress in this direction is discussed.
We review the current status of general relativistic studies for the coalescence of black hole-neutron star (BH-NS) binaries. First, procedures for a solution of BH-NS binaries in quasi-equilibrium circular orbits and the numerical results, such as quasi-equilibrium sequence and mass-shedding limit, of the high-precision computation, are summarized. Then, the current status of numerical-relativity simulations for the merger of BH-NS binaries is described. We summarize our understanding for the merger and/or tidal disruption processes, the criterion for tidal disruption, the properties of the remnant formed after the tidal disruption, gravitational waveform, and gravitational-wave spectrum.
by: Jeffrey Winicour
I review the development of numerical evolution codes for general relativity based upon the characteristic initial value problem. Progress is traced from the early stage of 1D feasibility studies to 2D axisymmetric codes that accurately simulate the oscillations and gravitational collapse of relativistic stars and to current 3D codes that provide pieces of a binary black hole spacetime. Cauchy codes have now been successful at simulating all aspects of the binary black hole problem inside an artificially constructed outer boundary. A prime application of characteristic evolution is to eliminate the role of this artificial outer boundary via Cauchy-characteristic matching, by which the radiated waveform can be computed at null infinity. Progress in this direction is discussed.
Equations arising in general relativity are usually too complicated to be solved analytically and one must rely on numerical methods to solve sets of coupled partial differential equations. Among the possible choices, this paper focuses on a class called spectral methods in which, typically, the various functions are expanded in sets of orthogonal polynomials or functions. First, a theoretical introduction of spectral expansion is given with a particular emphasis on the fast convergence of the spectral approximation. We then present different approaches to solving partial differential equations, first limiting ourselves to the one-dimensional case, with one or more domains. Generalization to more dimensions is then discussed. In particular, the case of time evolutions is carefully studied and the stability of such evolutions investigated. We then present results obtained by various groups in the field of general relativity by means of spectral methods. Work, which does not involve explicit time-evolutions, is discussed, going from rapidly-rotating strange stars to the computation of black-hole–binary initial data. Finally, the evolution of various systems of astrophysical interest are presented, from supernovae core collapse to black-hole–binary mergers.
by: José A. Font
This article presents a comprehensive overview of numerical hydrodynamics and magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) in general relativity. Some significant additions have been incorporated with respect to the previous two versions of this review (2000, 2003), most notably the coverage of general-relativistic MHD, a field in which remarkable activity and progress has occurred in the last few years. Correspondingly, the discussion of astrophysical simulations in general-relativistic hydrodynamics is enlarged to account for recent relevant advances, while those dealing with general-relativistic MHD are amply covered in this review for the first time. The basic outline of this article is nevertheless similar to its earlier versions, save for the addition of MHD-related issues throughout. Hence, different formulations of both the hydrodynamics and MHD equations are presented, with special mention of conservative and hyperbolic formulations well adapted to advanced numerical methods. A large sample of numerical approaches for solving such hyperbolic systems of equations is discussed, paying particular attention to solution procedures based on schemes exploiting the characteristic structure of the equations through linearized Riemann solvers. As previously stated, a comprehensive summary of astrophysical simulations in strong gravitational fields is also presented. These are detailed in three basic sections, namely gravitational collapse, black-hole accretion, and neutron-star evolutions; despite the boundaries, these sections may (and in fact do) overlap throughout the discussion. The material contained in these sections highlights the numerical challenges of various representative simulations. It also follows, to some extent, the chronological development of the field, concerning advances in the formulation of the gravitational field, hydrodynamics and MHD equations and the numerical methodology designed to solve them. To keep the length of this article reasonable, an effort has been made to focus on multidimensional studies, directing the interested reader to earlier versions of the review for discussions on one-dimensional works.
As first discovered by Choptuik, the black hole threshold in the space of initial data for general relativity shows both surprising structure and surprising simplicity. Universality, power-law scaling of the black hole mass, and scale echoing have given rise to the term “critical phenomena”. They are explained by the existence of exact solutions which are attractors within the black hole threshold, that is, attractors of codimension one in phase space, and which are typically self-similar. Critical phenomena give a natural route from smooth initial data to arbitrarily large curvatures visible from infinity, and are therefore likely to be relevant for cosmic censorship, quantum gravity, astrophysics, and our general understanding of the dynamics of general relativity.
Event and apparent horizons are key diagnostics for the presence and properties of black holes. In this article I review numerical algorithms and codes for finding event and apparent horizons in numerically-computed spacetimes, focusing on calculations done using the 3+1 ADM formalism. The event horizon of an asymptotically-flat spacetime is the boundary between those events from which a future-pointing null geodesic can reach future null infinity and those events from which no such geodesic exists. The event horizon is a (continuous) null surface in spacetime. The event horizon is defined nonlocally in time: it is a global property of the entire spacetime and must be found in a separate post-processing phase after all (or at least the nonstationary part) of spacetime has been numerically computed.
There are three basic algorithms for finding event horizons, based on integrating null geodesics forwards in time, integrating null geodesics backwards in time, and integrating null surfaces backwards in time. The last of these is generally the most efficient and accurate.
In contrast to an event horizon, an apparent horizon is defined locally in time in a spacelike slice and depends only on data in that slice, so it can be (and usually is) found during the numerical computation of a spacetime. A marginally outer trapped surface (MOTS) in a slice is a smooth closed 2-surface whose future-pointing outgoing null geodesics have zero expansion Theta. An apparent horizon is then defined as a MOTS not contained in any other MOTS. The MOTS condition is a nonlinear elliptic partial differential equation (PDE) for the surface shape, containing the ADM 3-metric, its spatial derivatives, and the extrinsic curvature as coefficients. Most “apparent horizon” finders actually find MOTSs.
There are a large number of apparent horizon finding algorithms, with differing trade-offs between speed, robustness, accuracy, and ease of programming. In axisymmetry, shooting algorithms work well and are fairly easy to program. In slices with no continuous symmetries, spectral integral-iteration algorithms and elliptic-PDE algorithms are fast and accurate, but require good initial guesses to converge. In many cases, Schnetter’s “pretracking” algorithm can greatly improve an elliptic-PDE algorithm’s robustness. Flow algorithms are generally quite slow but can be very robust in their convergence. Minimization methods are slow and relatively inaccurate in the context of a finite differencing simulation, but in a spectral code they can be relatively faster and more robust.
by: Jeffrey Winicour
I review the development of numerical evolution codes for general relativity based upon the characteristic initial value problem. Progress is traced from the early stage of 1D feasibility studies to 2D axisymmetric codes that accurately simulate the oscillations and gravitational collapse of relativistic stars and to current 3D codes that provide pieces of a binary black hole spacetime. A prime application of characteristic evolution is to compute waveforms via Cauchy-characteristic matching, which is also reviewed.