skip to main content


This content will become publicly available on December 1, 2024

Title: Astrophysics with the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna
Abstract The Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) will be a transformative experiment for gravitational wave astronomy, and, as such, it will offer unique opportunities to address many key astrophysical questions in a completely novel way. The synergy with ground-based and space-born instruments in the electromagnetic domain, by enabling multi-messenger observations, will add further to the discovery potential of LISA. The next decade is crucial to prepare the astrophysical community for LISA’s first observations. This review outlines the extensive landscape of astrophysical theory, numerical simulations, and astronomical observations that are instrumental for modeling and interpreting the upcoming LISA datastream. To this aim, the current knowledge in three main source classes for LISA is reviewed; ultra-compact stellar-mass binaries, massive black hole binaries, and extreme or interme-diate mass ratio inspirals. The relevant astrophysical processes and the established modeling techniques are summarized. Likewise, open issues and gaps in our understanding of these sources are highlighted, along with an indication of how LISA could help making progress in the different areas. New research avenues that LISA itself, or its joint exploitation with upcoming studies in the electromagnetic domain, will enable, are also illustrated. Improvements in modeling and analysis approaches, such as the combination of numerical simulations and modern data science techniques, are discussed. This review is intended to be a starting point for using LISA as a new discovery tool for understanding our Universe.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
2012057 2145421 1908042 2006066 1912619 2006538 2007993
NSF-PAR ID:
10417326
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; more » ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; « less
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Living Reviews in Relativity
Volume:
26
Issue:
1
ISSN:
1433-8351
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. ABSTRACT

    The upcoming Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) is expected to detect gravitational waves (GWs) from massive black hole binaries (MBHB). Finding the electromagnetic (EM) counterparts for these GW events will be crucial for understanding how and where MBHBs merge, measuring their redshifts, constraining the Hubble constant and the graviton mass, and for other novel science applications. However, due to poor GW sky localization, multiwavelength, time-dependent EM models are needed to identify the right host galaxy. We studied merging MBHBs embedded in a circumbinary disc (CBD) using high-resolution two-dimensional simulations, with a Γ-law equation of state, incorporating viscous heating, shock heating, and radiative cooling. We simulate the binary from large separation until after merger, allowing us to model the decoupling of the binary from the CBD. We compute the EM signatures and identify distinct features before, during, and after the merger. Our main result is a multiband EM signature: we find that the MBHB produces strong thermal X-ray emission until 1–2 d prior to the merger. However, as the binary decouples from the CBD, the X-ray-bright minidiscs rapidly shrink in size, become disrupted, and the accretion rate drops precipitously. As a result, the thermal X-ray luminosity drops by orders of magnitude, and the source remains X-ray dark for several days, regardless of any post-merger effects such as GW recoil or mass-loss. Looking for the abrupt spectral change where the thermal X-ray disappears is a tell-tale EM signature of LISA mergers that does not require extensive pre-merger monitoring.

     
    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    We present the results from our ongoing spectroscopic survey targeting low-mass white dwarf binaries, focusing on the southern sky. We used a Gaia DR2- and eDR3-based selection and identified 28 new binaries, including 19 new extremely low-mass (ELM) white dwarfs, one short period, likely eclipsing, DABZ, and two potential LISA binaries. We present the orbital and atmospheric parameters for each new binary based on our spectroscopic follow up. Four of our new binaries show periodic photometric variability in TESS 2 minutes cadence data, including one new eclipsing double-lined spectroscopic binary. Three others show periodic photometric variability in ZTF, including one new eclipsing binary. We provide estimates for the inclinations and scaled component radii for these ZTF variables, based on light-curve modeling of our high-speed photometric follow-up observations. Our observations have increased the sample of ELM Survey binaries identified in the southern sky to 41, an increase of 64%. Future time domain surveys, such as BlackGEM and the Vera C. Rubin Observatory Legacy Survey of Space and Time, will efficiently identify photometric variables in the southern sky and significantly increase the population of southern sky low-mass white dwarf binaries, leading to a more complete all-sky population of these systems.

     
    more » « less
  3. ABSTRACT

    White dwarf binaries with orbital periods below 1 h will be the most numerous sources for the space-based gravitational wave detector Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA). Based on thousands of individually resolved systems, we will be able to constrain binary evolution and provide a new map of the Milky Way and its close surroundings. In this paper we predict the main properties of populations of different types of detached white dwarf binaries detected by LISA over time. For the first time, we combine a high-resolution cosmological simulation of a Milky Way-mass galaxy (taken from the FIRE project) with a binary population synthesis model for low- and intermediate-mass stars. Our Galaxy model therefore provides a cosmologically realistic star formation and metallicity history for the Galaxy and naturally produces its different components such as the thin and thick disc, the bulge, the stellar halo, and satellite galaxies and streams. Thanks to the simulation, we show how different Galactic components contribute differently to the gravitational wave signal, mostly due to their typical age and distance distributions. We find that the dominant LISA sources will be He–He double white dwarfs (DWDs) and He–CO DWDs with important contributions from the thick disc and bulge. The resulting sky map of the sources is different from previous models, with important consequences for the searches for electromagnetic counterparts and data analysis. We also emphasize that much of the science-enabling information regarding white dwarf binaries, such as the chirp mass and the sky localization, becomes increasingly rich with long observations, including an extended mission up to 8 yr.

     
    more » « less
  4. Abstract We explicitly demonstrate that current numerical relativity techniques are able to accurately evolve black hole binaries with mass ratios of the order of 1000:1. This proof of principle is relevant for future third generation gravitational wave detectors and space mission LISA, as by purely numerical methods we would be able to accurately compute gravitational waves from the last stages of black hole mergers, as directly predicted by general relativity. We perform a sequence of simulations in the intermediate to small mass ratio regime, m 1 p / m 2 p = 1 / 7 , 1 / 16 , 1 / 32 , 1 / 64 , 1 / 128 , 1 / 256 , 1 / 512 , 1 / 1024 , with the small hole starting from rest at a proper distance D ≈ 13 M . We compare these headon full numerical evolutions with the corresponding semianalytic point particle perturbative results finding an impressive agreement for the total gravitational radiated energy and linear momentum as well as for the waveform spectra. We display numerical convergence of the results and identify the minimal numerical resolutions required to accurately solve for these very low amplitude gravitational waves. This work represents a first step towards the considerable challenge of applying numerical-relativity waveforms to interpreting gravitational-wave observations by LISA and next-generation ground-based gravitational-wave detectors. 
    more » « less
  5. ABSTRACT Mergers of binaries comprising compact objects can give rise to explosive transient events, heralding the birth of exotic objects that cannot be formed through single-star evolution. Using a large number of direct N-body simulations, we explore the possibility that a white dwarf (WD) is dynamically driven to tidal disruption by a stellar-mass black hole (BH) as a consequence of the joint effects of gravitational wave (GW) emission and Lidov–Kozai oscillations imposed by the tidal field of an outer tertiary companion orbiting the inner BH–WD binary. We explore the sensitivity of our results to the distributions of natal kick velocities imparted to the BH and WD upon formation, adiabatic mass loss, semimajor axes and eccentricities of the triples, and stellar-mass ratios. We find rates of WD–tidal disruption events (TDEs) in the range 1.2 × 10−3 − 1.4 Gpc−3 yr−1 for z ≤ 0.1, rarer than stellar TDEs in triples by a factor of ∼3–30. The uncertainty in the TDE rates may be greatly reduced in the future using GW observations of Galactic binaries and triples with LISA. WD–TDEs may give rise to high-energy X-ray or gamma-ray transients of duration similar to long gamma-ray bursts but lacking the signatures of a core-collapse supernova, while being accompanied by a supernova-like optical transient that lasts for only days. WD–BH and WD–NS binaries will also emit GWs in the LISA band before the TDE. The discovery and identification of triple-induced WD–TDE events by future time domain surveys and/or GWs could enable the study of the demographics of BHs in nearby galaxies. 
    more » « less