Authors: Etienne Racine
Date: 12 Mar 2008
Abstract: We analyze in detail the spin precession equations in binary black hole systems, when the tidal torque on a Kerr black hole is taken into account. We show that completing the precession equations with this term reveals the existence of a conserved quantity at 2PN order when restricting attention to orbits with negligible eccentricity and averaging over orbital motion. This quantity allows one to solve the (orbit-averaged) precession equations exactly in the case of equal masses and arbitrary spins, neglecting radiation reaction. For unequal masses, an exact solution does not exist in closed form, but we are still able to derive accurate approximate analytic solutions. We also show how to incorporate radiation reaction effects into our analytic solutions adiabatically, and compare the results to solutions obtained numerically. For various configurations of the binary, the relative difference in the accumulated orbital phase computed using our analytic solutions versus a full numerical solution vary from about 0.3% to 1.8% over the 80 - 140 orbital cycles accumulated while sweeping over the orbital frequency range 20 - 300 Hz. This typically corresponds to a discrepancy of order 5-6 radians. While this may not be accurate enough for implementation in LIGO template banks, we still believe that our new solutions are potentially quite useful for comparing numerical relativity simulations of spinning binary black hole systems with post-Newtonian theory. They can also be used to gain more understanding of precessional effects, with potential application to the gravitational recoil problem, and to provide semi-analytical templates for spinning, precessing binaries.
© M. Vallisneri 2012 — last modified on 2010/01/29
Tantum in modicis, quantum in maximis