Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics

Forschung 2016

Saturation of the f-mode instability

July 2016

Pantelis Pnigouras, Kostas D. Kokkotas, Marco Surace

Fast-rotating neutron stars are likely to be unstable against certain oscillation modes, due to the emission of gravitational waves. The gravitational-wave signal generated by such an instability (known as the Chandrasekhar-Friedman-Schutz, or CFS, instability) could be used for asteroseismological studies, i.e., for extracting information about the (otherwise inaccessible) neutron star interior. After its initial growth phase, the instability is expected to saturate, due to nonlinear effects. The saturation amplitude of the unstable mode determines the detectability of the generated gravitational-wave signal, but also affects the evolution of the neutron star through the instability window, namely the region where the instability is active. We studied the saturation of CFS-unstable f-modes --which are the fundamental oscillation modes of the star and very good gravitational wave emitters-- due to low-order nonlinear mode coupling. We showed that the unstable (parent) mode resonantly couples to pairs of stable (daughter) modes, which drain the parent’s energy and make it saturate, via a mechanism called parametric resonance instability. We found that the saturation amplitude changes significantly throughout the instability window and, hence, during the neutron star evolution. Using the highest values obtained for the saturation amplitude, a signal from an unstable f-mode may even lie above the sensitivity of current, second-generation, gravitational-wave detectors. In addition, for some optimistic cases, CFS-unstable f-modes throughout the Universe could even produce a detectable stochastic gravitational-wave background.

Phys. Rev. D 92, 084018 (2015), arXiv:1509.01453
Phys. Rev. D 94, 024053 (2016), arXiv:1607.03059
Astron. Astrophys. 586, A86 (2016), arXiv:1512.02502

Strong gravity effects from populations of binary black holes

August 2016

Andrea Maselli, Stefania Marassi, Valeria Ferrari, Kostas D. Kokkotas, Raffaella Schneider

Gravitational waves represent a powerful tool to investigate gravity in extreme conditions, which involve the most compact objects of our Universe, as neutron stars and black holes. Searching for possible signatures of strong gravity effects is a crucial ingredient, provided by alternative theories to compare against General Relativity. Black hole coalescences represent the ideal candidates for such tests, as they constitute the primary target to be detected by terrestrial interferometers.

In our study we focus on the gravitational wave background emitted by a population of binary black holes, which are too distant to be resolved as individual sources. We investigate how modified theories of gravity alter the expected signal. Employing a pure phenomenological and agnostic parametrization, we identify the parameter space which lead to relevant changes, and therefore to signatures potentially observable by current detectors. We show the constraints that advanced LIGO may be able to set in the near future on alternative theories, significantly improving the current bounds coming from electromagnetic observations.

Phys. Rev. Lett. 117, 091102 (2016), arXiv:1606.04996