Accuracy of gravitational waveform models for observing neutron-star-black-hole binaries in Advanced LIGO

Alexander H. Nitz, Andrew Lundgren, Duncan A. Brown, Evan Ochsner, Drew Keppel, Ian W. Harry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Gravitational waves radiated by the coalescence of compact-object binaries containing a neutron star and a black hole are one of the most interesting sources for the ground-based gravitational-wave observatories Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo. Advanced LIGO will be sensitive to the inspiral of a 1.4M Š™ neutron star into a 10MŠ™ black hole to a maximum distance of ∼900 Mpc. Achieving this sensitivity and extracting the physics imprinted in observed signals requires accurate modeling of the binary to construct template waveforms. In a neutron-star-black-hole binary, the black hole may have significant angular momentum (spin), which affects the phase evolution of the emitted gravitational waves. We investigate the ability of currently available post-Newtonian templates to model the gravitational waves emitted during the inspiral phase of neutron-star-black-hole binaries. We restrict to the case where the spin of the black hole is aligned with the orbital angular momentum and compare several post-Newtonian approximants. We examine restricted amplitude post-Newtonian waveforms that are accurate to third-and-a-half post-Newtonian order in the orbital dynamics and complete to second-and-a-half post-Newtonian order in the spin dynamics. We also consider post-Newtonian waveforms that include the recently derived third-and-a-half post-Newtonian order spin-orbit correction and the third post-Newtonian order spin-orbit tail correction. We compare these post-Newtonian approximants to the effective-one-body waveforms for spin-aligned binaries. For all of these waveform families, we find that there is a large disagreement between different waveform approximants, starting at low to moderate black hole spins, particularly for binaries where the spin is antialigned with the orbital angular momentum. The match between the TaylorT4 and TaylorF2 approximants is ∼0.8 for a binary with mBH/mNS∼4 and χBH=cJBH/GmBH2∼0.4. We show that the divergence between the gravitational waveforms begins in the early inspiral at v∼0.2 for χBH∼0.4. Post-Newtonian spin corrections beyond those currently known will be required for optimal detection searches and to measure the parameters of neutron-star-black-hole binaries. The strong dependence of the gravitational-wave signal on the spin dynamics will make it possible to extract significant astrophysical information from detected systems with Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number124039
JournalPhysical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 26 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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