Strong Gravity research at Perimeter Institute is devoted to understanding both the theoretical and observational aspects of systems in which gravity is very strong (i.e., spacetime is highly curved or dynamical],. On one hand, this means studying extreme astrophysical systems, like black holes and neutron stars, as well as making and testing predictions for existing and forthcoming gravitational wave detectors, electromagnetic telescopes, and particle astrophysics experiments. On the other hand, it also includes a range of non-astrophysical topics, such as the instabilities of higher-dimensional black holes or the dynamics of strongly-coupled quantum field theories (via holography). The goal of strong gravity researcher is to test the validity of Einstein's theory of gravity, constrain proposed alternatives, understand the most extreme astrophysical systems, and investigate the ways in which highly curved or dynamical spacetimes are linked with a range of other problems in fundamental physics.
Tidal interactions in coalescing binary neutron stars modify the dynamics of the inspiral, and hence imprint a signature on their gravitational-wave (GW) signals in the form of an extra phase shift. We need accurate models for the tidal phase shift in order to constrain the supranuclear equation of state from observations. In previous studies, GW waveform models were typically constructed by treating the tide as a linear response to a perturbing tidal field. In this work, we incorporate non-linear corrections due to hydrodynamic three- and four-mode interactions and show how they can improve the accuracy and explanatory power of waveform models. We set up and numerically solve the coupled differential equations for the orbit and the modes, and analytically derive solutions of the system's equilibrium configuration. Our analytical solutions agree well with the numerical ones up to the merger and involve only algebraic relations, allowing for fast phase shift and waveform evaluations for different equations of state over a large parameter space. We find that, at Newtonian order, nonlinear fluid effects can enhance the tidal phase shift by >~ 1 radian at a GW frequency of 1000 Hz, corresponding to a 10−20% correction to the linear theory. The scale of the additional phase shift near the merger is consistent with the difference between numerical relativity and theoretical predictions that account only for the linear tide. Nonlinear fluid effects are thus important when interpreting the results of numerical relativity, and in the construction of waveform models for current and future GW detectors.
The Event Horizon Telescope has released total intensity images of the Messier 87* and Sagittarius A* accretion flows; polarized images have been released for M 87*, and are imminent for Sgr A*. These images are a rich source of theoretical constraints on the black hole accretion flow system, but a trustworthy measurement of either black hole's spin remains elusive. Spin nonetheless remains a high priority, as the black hole angular momentum is deeply linked to mechanisms of energy extraction and galactic co-evolution. In my talk, I will discuss my work on providing theoretical traction on supermassive black hole spin, and will review the state of spin measurements using existing and future EHT data, including measurements of the black hole photon ring, inference of near-horizon magnetic field structure, and next-generation spacetime/emissivity inference codes.
Gravitational waves emitted by compact binaries enable unprecedented tests of gravity at highly non-linear regimes, as well as the underlying cosmological model. Going beyond the current null tests of gravity requires accurate theoretical modelling of the waveforms in viable extensions of General Relativity. In the first part of this talk, I will present the recent results and physical insights from analytical modelling of the gravitational waves in the so-called Einstein-scalar-Gauss-Bonnet gravity. Being a sub-class of both Horndeski and quadratic gravity, this theory introduces non-linear curvature corrections to strong-field regime of gravity, allows for hairy-black hole solutions, and scalar-induced tidal deformations. I will present the gravitational-wave signatures of theory’s curvature corrections and the prospects of testing the features of this theory through gravitational wave observations. In the second part of the talk, I will discuss the prospects of using compact mergers for cosmological tests by solely relying on their gravitational wave signals. Using recent constraints on the equation-of-state of neutron stars from multi-messenger observations of NICER and LIGO/Virgo, I show possible bounds on the Hubble constant (H0) found from (single and multiple) neutron star-black hole standard sirens in the next-generation gravitational wave detector era. I show that such systems could enable unbiased 13% - 4% precision measurement of H0 (68% credible interval) within an observation time-frame of hours to a day.
Charge (electric, magnetic, or any U(1) charge) is a parameter often neglected in simulations of black holes. As a result, little is known about the dynamics of charged binaries. In this talk, I will highlight the importance of understanding the non-linear interaction of charged black holes for astrophysics and fundamental physics. I will show results from fully self-consistent general-relativistic simulations of merging black holes, touching upon the challenges faced in performing such calculations and the improvements that enabled successful long-term evolution. I will discuss general features of quasi-circular inspirals, and present constraints on the charge of astrophysical black holes and deviation from general relativity obtained from the gravitational-wave event GW150914. Finally, I will highlight the relevance of this line of research in the context of the upcoming gravitational-wave detectors.
We present a reduced-order surrogate model of gravitational waveforms from non-spinning binary black hole systems with comparable to large mass-ratio configurations. This surrogate model, BHPTNRSur1dq1e4, is trained on waveform data generated by point-particle black hole perturbation theory (ppBHPT) with mass ratios varying from 2.5 to 10,000. BHPTNRSur1dq1e4 can generate waveforms up to 30,500 m1(where m1 is the mass of the primary black hole), includes several more spherical harmonic modes up to \ell=10, and calibrates both dominant and subdominant modes to numerical relativity (NR) data. In the comparable mass-ratio regime, including mass ratios as low as 2.5, the gravitational waveforms generated through ppBHPT agree surprisingly well with those from NR after this simple calibration step. We argue that this scaling essentially captures higher order self-force corrections in a much simpler way. We also compare our model to recent SXS and RIT NR simulations at mass ratios ranging from 15 to 32, and find the dominant quadrupolar modes agree to better than≈10−3. We expect our model to be useful to study intermediate-mass-ratio binary systems in current and future gravitational-wave detectors. Finally, we discuss avenues for improving the model by extending its region of validity.
Fluid mechanics has proven to be remarkably successful in describing a wide variety of substances, both familiar and exotic. The latter category includes relativistic fluids, often arising in the most extreme regimes found anywhere in the universe. One such example is the quark-gluon plasma (QGP) formed in collisions of heavy ions, which exists at temperatures hot enough to “melt” hadrons; another is the matter composing neutron stars, whose density is comparable to that of an atomic nucleus. Beyond the surprising fact that the aforementioned substances act as fluids, they share an additional similarity in that they may both be measurably viscous, a feature accounted for in models of the QGP but almost never in neutron star simulations.
In this talk I will overview progress toward the incorporation of dissipative effects such as viscosity into relativistic fluid models of astrophysical systems. I will begin by reviewing the modern inter- pretation of fluid mechanics as a gradient expansion about thermodynamic equilibrium, and will discuss the nuances of constructing a theory compatible with beyond-equilibrium thermodynamics and general relativity. I will then define and motivate a promising new formulation of relativistic dissipative hydrodynamics known as BDNK theory before summarizing recent work toward its application in models of neutron stars.
Gravitational wave observations are revealing new features in the mass distribution of merging binary black holes (BBHs). The BBHs we observe today are relics of massive stars that lived in the early Universe, and we aim to use their properties to help reveal the lives and deaths of their stellar ancestors.
In this talk, I will discuss which of the observed features are robust, and if/how we can use them to constrain the uncertain progenitor physics. I will focus on the lowest mass BHs, just above the edge of NS formation because we find they I) contain crucial information about the most common formation pathway, II) are least affected by uncertainties in the cosmic star formation, and III) shine new light on the much-disputed mass-gap between neutron stars and black holes.
A gravitational wave from a binary black hole merger is an important probe to test gravity. Especially, the observation of ringdown may allow us to perform a robust test of gravity as it is a superposition of excited quasi-normal (QN) modes of a Kerr black hole. The excitation factor is an important quantity that quantifies the excitability of QN modes and is independent of the initial data of the black hole.
In this talk, I will show which QN modes can be important (i.e., have higher excitation factors) and will discuss how we can determine the start time of ringdown to maximally enhance the detectability of the QN modes.
Also, I will introduce my recent conjecture on the modeling of ringdown waveform:
the thermal ringdown model in which the ringdown of a small mass ratio merger involving a spinning black hole can be modeled by the Fermi-Dirac distribution.
I discuss novel symmetries of perturbation theory around rotating and non-rotating black holes in general relativity, and discuss their origins and implications for gravitational-wave astronomy. This is motivated by two special aspects of black hole perturbations in four dimensions: isospectrality of quasinormal modes and the vanishing of tidal Love numbers. There turn out to be off-shell symmetries underlying each of these phenomena. One is a duality, which on shell reproduces the famous Chandrasekhar duality and therefore underlies isospectrality, and can be thought of as an extension of electric-magnetic duality to black hole backgrounds. The other is a set of "ladder symmetries" relating modes of different angular momentum or spin, which imply the vanishing of Love numbers. This has a geometric origin in the conformal symmetry of low-frequency modes.
The growing catalog of gravitational-wave signals from compact object mergers has allowed us to study the properties of black holes and neutron stars more precisely than ever before and has opened a new window through which to probe the earliest moments in our universe’s history. In this talk, I will demonstrate how current and future gravitational-wave observations can be uniquely leveraged to learn about astrophysics and cosmology. With the current catalog of events detected by the LIGO and Virgo gravitational-wave detectors, I will present evidence for a correlation between the redshift and spin distributions of binary black holes and discuss its astrophysical implications. With joint observations of short gamma-ray bursts and binary neutron star mergers accessible in the next few years, I will describe how to constrain the jet geometry and shed light on the central engine powering these explosions. Finally, with the sensitivities expected for the next generation of gravitational-wave detectors, I will present the statistically optimal method for the simultaneous detection of a foreground of compact binary mergers and a stochastic gravitational-wave background from early-universe processes.
As was realized by Bondi, Metzner, van der Burg, and Sachs (BMS), the symmetry group of asymptotic infinity is not the Poincaré group, but an infinite-dimensional group called the BMS group. Because of this, understanding the BMS frame of the gravitational waves produced by numerical relativity is crucial for ensuring that analyses on such waveforms and comparisons with other waveform models are performed properly. Up until now, however, the BMS frame of numerical waveforms has not been thoroughly examined, largely because the necessary tools have not existed. In this talk, I will highlight new methods that have led to improved numerical waveforms; specifically, I will explain what the gravitational memory effect is and how it has recently been resolved in numerical relativity. Following this, I will then illustrate how we fix the BMS frame of numerical waveforms to perform much more accurate comparisons with either quasi-normal mode or post-Newtonian models. Last, I will briefly highlight some exciting results that this work has enabled, such as building memory-containing surrogate models and finding nonlinearities in black hole ringdowns.