Observational Consequences of Gravitational Wave Emission From Spinning Compact Sources

Open Access
Whitbeck, David Michael
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
June 28, 2006
Committee Members:
  • Benjamin J Owen, Committee Chair
  • Lee S Finn, Committee Member
  • Pablo Laguna, Committee Member
  • Michael Eracleous, Committee Member
  • gravitational waves
  • recoil
  • LIGO
This thesis covers two distinct projects on gravitational wave physics. The first project is a mathematical computation of the gravitational radiation recoil from spinning black hole binary mergers. Radiation recoil speeds have important implications in several astrophysical scenarios such as black hole ejection from globular clusters and dwarf galaxies, hierarchical formation of black holes and more. The inability to directly measure this effect means that theoretical predictions offer the only insight into the size and importance of radiation recoil in the aforementioned astrophysical scenarios. The result found is that spin has the effect of reducing the recoil. Furthermore, the recoil speed is bounded above by roughly 100 km/s. The second project details computing the Fisher information matrix and parameter space search metric for spinning down periodic sources using a simple "Ptolemaic" model of the Earth's orbit. This is then used to determine the optimal grid for the LIGO periodic sources group to search for unknown pulsar signals. The grid is implemented under the distributed computing project Einstein@Home to search LIGO data for periodic signals from previously unknown objects over the entire sky and frequency band. It has been used by Einstein@Home since summer 2005, for the S4 and now the S5 data runs.