The basic physics of the binary black hole merger GW150914

B. P. Abbott, R. Abbott, T. D. Abbott, M. R. Abernathy, F. Acernese, K. Ackley, C. Adams, T. Adams, P. Addesso, R. X. Adhikari, V. B. Adya, C. Affeldt, M. Agathos, K. Agatsuma, N. Aggarwal, O. D. Aguiar, L. Aiello, A. Ain, P. Ajith, B. AllenA. Allocca, P. A. Altin, S. B. Anderson, W. G. Anderson, K. Arai, M. C. Araya, C. C. Arceneaux, J. S. Areeda, N. Arnaud, K. G. Arun, S. Ascenzi, G. Ashton, M. Ast, S. M. Aston, P. Astone, P. Aufmuth, C. Aulbert, S. Babak, P. Bacon, M. K M Bader, F. Baldaccini, G. Ballardin, S. W. Ballmer, J. C. Barayoga, S. E. Barclay, B. C. Barish, D. Barker, F. Barone, B. Barr, V. Mangano, LIGO Scientific and VIRGO Collaborations

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38 Scopus citations

Abstract

The first direct gravitational-wave detection was made by the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory on September 14, 2015. The GW150914 signal was strong enough to be apparent, without using any waveform model, in the filtered detector strain data. Here, features of the signal visible in the data are analyzed using concepts from Newtonian physics and general relativity, accessible to anyone with a general physics background. The simple analysis presented here is consistent with the fully general-relativistic analyses published elsewhere, in showing that the signal was produced by the inspiral and subsequent merger of two black holes. The black holes were each of approximately 35 Mʘ, still orbited each other as close as ∼350 km apart and subsequently merged to form a single black hole. Similar reasoning, directly from the data, is used to roughly estimate how far these black holes were from the Earth, and the energy that they radiated in gravitational waves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1600209
JournalAnnalen der Physik
Volume529
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of the United States National Science Foundation (NSF) for the construction and operation of the LIGO Laboratory and Advanced LIGO as well as the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) of the United Kingdom, the Max-Planck-Society (MPS), and the State of Niedersachsen/Germany for support of the construction of Advanced LIGO and construction and operation of the GEO600 detector. Additional support for Advanced LIGO was provided by the Australian Research Council. The authors gratefully acknowledge the Italian Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN), the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter supported by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, for the construction and operation of the Virgo detector and the creation and support of the EGO consortium. The authors also gratefully acknowledge research support from these agencies as well as by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research of India, Department of Science and Technology, India, Science & Engineering Research Board (SERB), India, Ministry of Human Resource Development, India, the Spanish Ministerio de Econom?a y Competitividad, the Conselleria d'Economia i Competitivitat and Conselleria d'Educaci?, Cultura i Universitats of the Govern de les Illes Balears, the National Science Centre of Poland, the European Commission, the Royal Society, the Scottish Funding Council, the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance, the Hungarian Scientific Research Fund (OTKA), the Lyon Institute of Origins (LIO), the National Research Foundation of Korea, Industry Canada and the Province of Ontario through the Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation, the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council Canada, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation, Funda??o de Amparo ? Pesquisa do Estado de S?o Paulo (FAPESP), Russian Foundation for Basic Research, the Leverhulme Trust, the Research Corporation, Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), Taiwan and the Kavli Foundation. The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of the NSF, STFC, MPS, INFN, CNRS and the State of Niedersachsen/Germany for provision of computational resources.

Keywords

  • GW150914
  • black holes
  • gravitational waves

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