GW170817: Related articles in Living Reviews in Relativity

#Gravity and Light: Living Reviews in Relativity joins the celebration with selected open-access review articles

On the occasion of the detection of the neutron star binary merger #GW170817 — for the first time in gravitational waves (GWs) and electromagnetic radiation (EM) — we highlight related review articles on NS mergers and their GW emission.

Metzger, B.D., "Kilonovae", Living Rev Relativ (2017) 20: 3.

The mergers of double neutron star (NS–NS) and black hole (BH)–NS binaries are promising gravitational wave (GW) sources for Advanced LIGO and future GW detectors. The neutron-rich ejecta from such merger events undergoes rapid neutron capture (r-process) nucleosynthesis, enriching our Galaxy with rare heavy elements like gold and platinum. The radioactive decay of these unstable nuclei also powers a rapidly evolving, supernova-like transient known as a “kilonova” (also known as “macronova”). Kilonovae are an approximately isotropic electromagnetic counterpart to the GW signal, which also provides a unique and direct probe of an important, if not dominant, r-process site. I review the history and physics of kilonovae, leading to the current paradigm of week-long emission with a spectral peak at near-infrared wavelengths. Using a simple light curve model to illustrate the basic physics, I introduce potentially important variations on this canonical picture, including: ∼day-long optical (“blue”) emission from lanthanide-free components of the ejecta; ∼hour-long precursor UV/blue emission, powered by the decay of free neutrons in the outermost ejecta layers; and enhanced emission due to energy input from a long-lived central engine, such as an accreting BH or millisecond magnetar. I assess the prospects of kilonova detection following future GW detections of NS–NS/BH–NS mergers in light of the recent follow-up campaign of the LIGO binary BH–BH mergers.

Abbott, B.P. et al. (The LIGO Scientific Collaboration, Virgo Collaboration), "Prospects for Observing and Localizing Gravitational-Wave Transients with Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo", Living Rev Relativ (2016) 19: 1.

We present a possible observing scenario for the Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo gravitational-wave detectors over the next decade, with the intention of providing information to the astronomy community to facilitate planning for multi-messenger astronomy with gravitational waves. We determine the expected sensitivity of the network to transient gravitational-wave signals, and study the capability of the network to determine the sky location of the source. We report our findings for gravitational-wave transients, with particular focus on gravitational-wave signals from the inspiral of binary neutron-star systems, which are considered the most promising for multi-messenger astronomy. The ability to localize the sources of the detected signals depends on the geographical distribution of the detectors and their relative sensitivity, and 90% credible regions can be as large as thousands of square degrees when only two sensitive detectors are operational. Determining the sky position of a significant fraction of detected signals to areas of 5 deg² to 20 deg² will require at least three detectors of sensitivity within a factor of ∼ 2 of each other and with a broad frequency bandwidth. Should the third LIGO detector be relocated to India as expected, a significant fraction of gravitational-wave signals will be localized to a few square degrees by gravitational-wave observations alone.

Postnov, K.A. & Yungelson, L.R.,"The Evolution of Compact Binary Star Systems",  Living Rev. Relativ. (2014) 17: 3.

We review the formation and evolution of compact binary stars consisting of white dwarfs (WDs), neutron stars (NSs), and black holes (BHs). Mergings of compact-star binaries are expected to be the most important sources for forthcoming gravitational-wave (GW) astronomy. In the first part of the review, we discuss observational manifestations of close binaries with NS and/or BH components and their merger rate, crucial points in the formation and evolution of compact stars in binary systems, including the treatment of the natal kicks, which NSs and BHs acquire during the core collapse of massive stars and the common envelope phase of binary evolution, which are most relevant to the merging rates of NS-NS, NS-BH and BH-BH binaries. The second part of the review is devoted mainly to the formation and evolution of binary WDs and their observational manifestations, including their role as progenitors of cosmologically-important thermonuclear SN Ia. We also consider AM CVn-stars, which are thought to be the best verification binary GW sources for future low-frequency GW space interferometers.

Blanchet, L., "Gravitational Radiation from Post-Newtonian Sources and Inspiralling Compact Binaries", Living Rev. Relativ. (2014) 17: 2.

To be observed and analyzed by the network of gravitational wave detectors on ground (LIGO, VIRGO, etc.) and by the future detectors in space (eLISA, etc.), inspiralling compact binaries — binary star systems composed of neutron stars and/or black holes in their late stage of evolution — require high-accuracy templates predicted by general relativity theory. The gravitational waves emitted by these very relativistic systems can be accurately modelled using a high-order post-Newtonian gravitational wave generation formalism. In this article, we present the current state of the art on post-Newtonian methods as applied to the dynamics and gravitational radiation of general matter sources (including the radiation reaction back onto the source) and inspiralling compact binaries. We describe the post-Newtonian equations of motion of compact binaries and the associated Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formalisms, paying attention to the self-field regularizations at work in the calculations. Several notions of innermost circular orbits are discussed. We estimate the accuracy of the post-Newtonian approximation and make a comparison with numerical computations of the gravitational self-force for compact binaries in the small mass ratio limit. The gravitational waveform and energy flux are obtained to high post-Newtonian order and the binary’s orbital phase evolution is deduced from an energy balance argument. Some landmark results are given in the case of eccentric compact binaries — moving on quasi-elliptical orbits with non-negligible eccentricity. The spins of the two black holes play an important role in the definition of the gravitational wave templates. We investigate their imprint on the equations of motion and gravitational wave phasing up to high post-Newtonian order (restricting to spin-orbit effects which are linear in spins), and analyze the post-Newtonian spin precession equations as well as the induced precession of the orbital plane.

Faber, J.A. & Rasio, F.A. "Binary Neutron Star Mergers", Living Rev. Relativ. (2012) 15: 8.

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.

Sathyaprakash, B.S. & Schutz, B.F., "Physics, Astrophysics and Cosmology with Gravitational Waves", Living Rev. Relativ. (2009) 12: 2.

Gravitational wave detectors are already operating at interesting sensitivity levels, and they have an upgrade path that should result in secure detections by 2014. We review the physics of gravitational waves, how they interact with detectors (bars and interferometers), and how these detectors operate. We study the most likely sources of gravitational waves and review the data analysis methods that are used to extract their signals from detector noise. Then we consider the consequences of gravitational wave detections and observations for physics, astrophysics, and cosmology.

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