[1101.1969] Electromagnetic extraction of energy from black hole-neutron star binaries

Authors: Sean T. McWilliams, Janna Levin

Date: 10 Jan 2011

Abstract: The coalescence of black hole-neutron star binaries is expected to be a principal source of gravitational waves for the next generation of detectors, Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo. Ideally, these and other gravitational wave sources would have a distinct electromagnetic counterpart, as significantly more information could be gained through two separate channels. In addition, since these detectors will probe distances with non-negligible redshift, a coincident observation of an electromagnetic counterpart to a gravitational wave signal would facilitate a novel measurement of dark energy [1]. For black hole masses not much larger than the neutron star mass, the tidal disruption and subsequent accretion of the neutron star by the black hole provides one avenue for generating an electromagnetic counterpart [2]. However, in this work, we demonstrate that, for all black hole-neutron star binaries observable by Advanced LIGO/Virgo, the interaction of the black hole with the magnetic field of the neutron star will drive a Poynting flux. This Poynting flux generates synchrotron/curvature radiation as the electron-positron plasma in the neutron star magnetosphere is accel- erated, and thermal radiation as the plasma is focused onto the neutron star magnetic poles, creating a "hot spot" on the neutron star surface. This novel effect will gener- ate copious luminosity, comparable to supernovae and active galactic nuclei, so that black hole-neutron star coalescences detectable with gravitational waves by Advanced LIGO/Virgo could also potentially be detectable electromagnetically.

abs pdf

Jan 15, 2011

1101.1969 (/preprints)
2011-01-15, 12:10 [edit]


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