The Art and Science of Black Hole Mergers
The merger of two black holes is one of the most extraordinary events in the natural world. Made of pure gravity, the holes combine to form a single hole, emitting a strong burst of gravitational radiation. Ground-based detectors are currently searching for such bursts from holes formed in the evolution of binary stars, and indeed the very first gravitational wave event detected may well be a black-hole merger. The space-based LISA detector is being designed to search for such bursts from merging massive black holes in the centers of galaxies, events that would emit many thousands of solar masses of pure gravitational wave energy over a period of only a few minutes. To assist gravitational wave astronomers in their searches, and to be in a position to understand the details of what they see, numerical relativists are performing supercomputer simulations of these events. I review here the state of the art of these simulations, what we have learned from them so far, and what challenges remain before we have a full prediction of the waveforms to be expected from these events.
KeywordsBlack Hole Gravitational Wave Gravitational Radiation Will Emit Gravitational Wave Detector
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